Chicagoan troubadour’s sophomore effort finds him seeking for eternal truths in the unquietness of our times.
PAUL CHRISTIAN – That’s Everything
It’s difficult to approach an album titled like this for one never knows what such a definitive statement may mean, whether the record’s writer would be condescending towards his listener, and if there’s a way out of songs’ cycle started with the offering’s titular piece. Still, the first line of “That’s Everything” – “Walk with me” – should dissolve any doubts in Paul Christian’s ability to empathize, his soft welcome emphasizing, without any preaching, the importance of faith in reaching inner peace and his country guitar twang suggesting that even a rocky road can have a nice groove to it. Although the multi-instrumentalist’s somewhat strident voice is not to everybody’s taste, his often optimistic numbers are easy to relate to, and when sorrows turn to a simple delight in “The Best Day Of My Life” – a warm ballad given a memorable six-string solo – one will feel right at home here.
So while disillusion seems to reign in the fuzzy and frantic, raw rockabilly of “Just A Dream” – a follow-up to Paul’s 2018 debut “American Dream” – whose refrain must be referencing “Losing My Religion” – and “Nobody’s Listening” proposes a cinematic cowboy’s sort of escapism, hope oozing out of the infectiously frightening “It Comes From Us All” and the bluegrass-tinged “Waiting For My Turn” isn’t immediately apparent, what with Paul’s ingrained Christianity. Yet whereas the Jessies and Joannas of Christian’s cuts look sad, the protagonist of the heavy, riff-flaunting “Bicycle Messenger” pretends to savor his parochial existence. Unfortunately, after the jangly “Speak Now” has harked back to the ’60s innocence, the album’s drift becomes rather regular – the solemn piano passage in “My Little One” notwithstanding – and this is the only twist that would mar it. Further on down the road, more surprises await, and PC’s next opus shall surely deliver the goods.
**** Dmitry M. Epstein, June 11, 2021
Paul Christian — American Dream 2018 / That's Everything 2020
by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-04-19
Christian makes an excellent point in the notes for his second album on his website: (paraphrased) An artist has a lifetime to prepare and develop the material for a first album, but only about a year or so to come up with the same process for the second one. So here we have Christian’s first two albums, American Dream from 2018, and That’s Everything from 2020; my original plan was only to review the newest one, but both were sent to me, the first is only a couple years old, and they are close enough stylistically to review together in a single review.
Paul Christian is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist from the Chicago area who’s been plying his trade for many years, first in various rock bands (The Skins, David and Paul, The Dangerous Joe’s) before dropping out for a number of years to raise a family. Then, later when his kids began to show musical aptitude, he formed a family band Punching Rubber with his daughter on clarinet and sax, and his son on guitar, after which he then turned to the solitude of composing — and arranging, and playing all the instruments, pretty much in that order. The debut features eleven cuts of superb songwriting, Christian is an exceptional songwriter and instrumentalist with a powerful knack for great lyrics to boot, and although he credits Alex Lifeson and Jimmy Page as his main influences, that would mainly apply to his playing; his songwriting and singing style seem to have more in common with a country / rock / Americana sound with a touch of folk and blues, the debut album featuring many acoustic foundations with full arrangements of electric guitar, bass, resonator, mandolin, and banjo, going so far as to itemize every guitar played on each track! If you could intersect that with a no-nonsense style of three to four minute songs in a style of Tom Petty or The Band, one might be getting close to what’s there.
With his second, That’s Everything, the style is the same but the arrangements have shifted to a more electric rawk sound, while not abandoning those acoustic elements entirely; it probably comes down to a matter of better production (by Tom Salvatori) and as such I am more often reminded of Nick Piunti, whose releases we have reviewed in these pages over the years. Both of Christian’s albums exude a masterful level of songcraft, with many standouts across both releases.
CD Review of That's Everything
MARCH 21, 2021
Paul Christian's 'That's Everything' is one of those albums purchased on a Friday night whim that becomes a pretty great secret treasure.
BY BILL GOLEMBESKI, SomethingElseReviews.com
Paul Christian’s That’s Everything, besides being a great rock record with power-pop hooks and a folky chaser, is just one of those albums purchased on a Friday night whim that becomes a pretty great (albeit vinyl!) secret treasure that we music collectors hold in a poker hand that will never win in Grammy game of kings, queens, the occasional ace, and four of any look-a-like cards.
But that’s all right.
Now, to get all sacred about rock music, the great Garth Hudson (of the Band fame!) once said, “You must, after the age of 33, continue to do a certain type of work, or else go into the shoe business. Forget music or it’ll turn into hatred, or reiteration, redundancy – and, in many cases, death.”
Any number of musical casualties certainly have sung this mantra. After all, as Pete Townshend once wrote, “I hope I die before I get old.” Neil Young sang, “I’d rather burn out than to fade away.” And of course (to get all sacred about history!), Patrick Henry, long ago, proclaimed: “Give me liberty or give me death.”
That’s all very sad and true, but sometimes rock ‘n’ roll holds onto an unrhymed melody, a bit of swagger, and a firestorm that scorches a keyboard like Jerry Lee Lewis, all of which allow a very few to (as William Blake once wrote) “persist in their folly” and “become wise.”
A bit of history: Paul Christian caught the rock fever when he was 13, played in local Chicago bar bands, got married, had kids, formed a band with his daughter on clarinet/sax and his son on guitar. Then, after too many years, he felt the urge to make a few records. His one-man band American Dream was released in 2018 and threw a barbed dart into Midwestern American heartland mythology. Fans of Bruce Springsteen, Arlo Guthrie, early R.E.M., Bob Dylan, and (yikes!) the Beatles will enjoy the vibes in these classic-rock grooves.
And now to the second record, 2020’s That’s Everything. It’s still classic rock one-man band stuff — with, perhaps, a nod toward country and folk. The title tune rolls down a melodic highway with the same pulse as the Eagles’ “Take It Easy” or Brewer and Shipley’s “One Toke Over the Line.”
As my friend, Kilda Defnut, often says, “America is a crazy place to live, but it’s always a convenient excuse for taking a nice car ride in the countryside.”
Just a note: Paul Christian’s guitar work is sublime and his drumming is, to quote (the great) Levon Helm, the “loosey goosey” style like (the equally great) Richard Manuel played on “Rag Mama Rag.”
There’s more: “Just a Dream” is a barrelhouse tune that rumbles and tumbles with a vintage rock ‘n’ roll vinyl (and very incessant) groove – like, perhaps, Dylan’s “Tombstone Blues” on his Highway 61 Revisited album. Then, the percussive driven “Nobody’s Listening” stretches the enunciated pulse and, quite frankly, sounds like a really great R.E.M. unreleased song that just happens to add a really wonderful and melodic guitar solo!
“Memphis Tonight” just pumps country blood into pop/soul music, with the addition of Julie Chatman on vocals. And “It Comes from Us All” again mines the great Michael Stipe/R.E.M. Southern-rock fault line, pulsing with a clever guitar, urgent chorus, melodic percussion, and then exploding into tough helium. In total contrast, “Waiting for My Turn” is a banjo-fueled folky tune that is always “laughing in the sunshine” and echoes the sound of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, circa their Uncle Charlie and His Dog Teddy album.
The acoustically strummed “The Best Day of My Life” is simple, extremely sad – and then, thankfully, through the beauty of “two song birds,” a soft sort of redemption is found. It’s a nice tune.
Just a thought, but back in the mid-’70s, when prog rock (which I love!) graced our turntables with side-long epics (which I really loved!) like Yes’s double disc Tales from Topographic Oceans, there was a nagging (and ever-enticing) rumor of perfect pop/rock records that never received proper distribution but were well worth searching for in the used and cut-out racks. True story: I found Big Star’s first album in a dumpy store called Records on the Nile, in St. Paul, Minn. Yeah, it had that lovely glossy cover that looked like a British import!
There were other bands like Crabby Appleton, the Wackers, and (my beloved) Good Rats. Well, That’s Everything, despite its recent release, would well have rested next to those poor-selling, impossible-to-find and now deemed classic albums found in discarded cut-out bins in Milwaukee’s Dirty Jack’s Record Racks.
But there is more great music: “Bicycle Messenger” is pop-punk with Elvis Costello’s “pump it up” beat. Then, (oh my!) “The Boy” get gossamer complex with yet another Michael Stipe-like vocal and patiently evokes an almost-mythical lyric that lurches into a sublime guitar solo (both electric and acoustic) which gets really into some wondrous Crazy Horse guitar tension that is, quite simply, a thing of heavy-woven beauty.
“Speak Now” plows into a much more melodic groove, with the breezy Rickenbacker guitar sound ala Roger McGuinn or Peter Buck. Then, “Worn Answers” wanders into the quick fire and funky backstreet vibe of Steve Miller (or, perhaps Lynyrd Skynyrd) that simply says, framed by yet another great line of demarcation guitar solo, we “want answers” — which is a decent rock ‘n’ roll thing to say.
Ditto for “Untamed”, which has a warm ’70s-style Southern country-rock band sound, with yet another vocal that explodes with urgency. The final song, “My Little One” is again, an acoustic and folky paradise that chimes with an aged and joyous glance at youth.
Bob Dylan, in his glorious ode to ’70s optimism, “Forever Young,” sang: “May God bless you and keep you always. May your wishes all come true. May you always do for others, and let others do for you.” That’s a nice thought. And he also sang, “May you build a ladder to the stars.” In its own idiosyncratic (and very talented) way, Paul Christian’s That’s Everything manages against all odds to stay “forever young” in a very rock ‘n’ roll way.
CD Review of That's Everything by JP's Music Blog:
...recently released his the latest studio effort from singer-songwriter Paul Christian titled "That's Everything." On this new album, Paul took on the role of singer, guitarist, drummer and bassist, making this a unique, fully solo effort. He kicks off his new thirteen song release with the acoustic-strumming, country-pop vibe of the title-song "That's Everything," before shifting gears for the raw, edgy rock-style of "Just A Dream." He draws similarities to the late-great Leon Russell on soulful rock tracks like "Memphis Tonight" and "The Boy," while revisiting his quieter side with the folk tale of "The Best Day Of My Life" and the heartfelt "My Little One." Paul Christian keeps you guessing which direction his music will go, as he places the sound of alternative rock of "Bicycle Messenger" along side the country rocker "Worn Answers," as he puts everything out for you to enjoy. To find out more about Paul Christian and his latest release "That's Everything," please visit paulchristian.rocks.
Posted by JPsMusicBlog,com
That's Everything CD review:
On what has fast become one of my favorite albums of this year, it opens with the melodic sing-along vibe of the title track 'That's Everything' and backs that up sweetly with the late-'60s rocker 'Just a Dream,' the mid-tempo angst of 'Nobody's Listening,' the laid back '70s rock of 'Memphis Tonight,' and then we get the REM-esque 'It Comes from Us All.'
Next up is the one-two, early-'90s alt-rock bounce of 'Waiting for My Turn' which is followed by lonesome lamenting of a passed loved one within 'The Best Day of My Life, and then a little They Might be Giants homage is found within 'Bicycle Messenger.'
The hauntingly expansive storytelling of 'The Boy' is up next and then we get a little more REM vibe with 'Speak Now,' with the album rounding out on the buoyant duo of 'Worn Answers' and 'Untamed,' closing on the tambourine-imbibed, gentle rocker about the raising of a child, 'My Little One.'
- AnneCarlini.com, EXCLUSIVE MAGAZINE CD REVIEWS
PAUL CHRISTIAN, That's Everything:
An established guitarist and composer known for his impeccable instrumental approach to neoclassical / avant-prog guitar music, Tom Salvatori is also the owner of his Salvatori Productions music label. Expanding on his label’s repertoire, Tom moves into the pop-rock market with the 2020 album release of That’s Everything, his second release by Chicago-based singer-songwriter Paul Christian. Back in the late 1960s, early ‘70s, the singer-songwriter sound was all the rage and in the spirit of country-rock legends like Buffalo Springfield and Poco, Paul Christian’s music defies genre. Mixing folk, rock and country to great effect, That’s Everything is a do-it-yourself album in the truest sense of the word. Speaking about Paul Christian, the album’s co-producer Tom Salvatori tells mwe3, “Besides being a great songwriter, Paul is a multi-instrumentalist… he performed on all instruments (guitars, bass, drums, keyboards) and as a result, we gave him co-producer credit as well. The only guest appearance on the album is Julie Chatman who performs the female vocal part on track 4 - "Memphis Tonight.” Through the wonders of modern-day studio music magic, Paul sounds like a one-man band and on several of the tracks, he even gets to show off his formidable electric lead guitar chops, case in point being track 9, “The Boy”. Most of these tracks have a deep in thought kind of singer-songwriter approach that ranges from influences such as early 1970s legacy artists Richie Furay and Harry Chapin to modern day vocalists like Marshall Crenshaw and Michael Stipe of R.E.M. Featuring memorable songs and first-rate musicianship, That’s Everything strikes a wonderful musical balance and in doing so creates an impressive collection of folk-meets-rock sounds.
Robert Silverstein, January, 2021
- Music Web Express mwe3.com
Blending a distinctly Midwestern strain of Americana with power pop melodicism, Paul Christian is a singer/songwriter based in the Chicago area. Despite playing in bands in his younger years, he didn't make his solo debut until later in life, pouring decades of quality songwriting into 2018's American Dream and his 2020 follow-up, That's Everything.
Born in Berwyn, Illinois, Christian bounced around various parts of Chicagoland in his youth, growing up in suburbs like Brookfield and Arlington Heights. As a rock-obsessed teenager, he began teaching himself guitar and other instruments, learning the ropes from '70s titans like Led Zeppelin and Rush. Like many talented musicians, stints in a handful of local rock bands and a knack for crafty songwriting eventually took a back seat to marriage and family. Over the years, Christian continued to nurture his craft in private, keeping a healthy notebook of song ideas and growing as a writer. By the time his kids were grown, he'd built up a significant backlog of songs that slotted somewhere between rugged Americana, folk-rock, and classic Beatlesque guitar pop. In 2018, with the help of Illinois-based label and publishing company Salvatori Productions, Christian released his debut album, American Dream, to a strong reception. Building on his momentum and with plenty of new songs to spare, he followed it two years later with That's Everything.
- ALLMUSIC.COM Artist Biography by Timothy Monger