Recommended if You Like
David Bowie Mott the Hoople T. Rex

Genres You Will Love
Rock: 70's Rock Rock: Glam Moods: Featuring Guitar Moods: Mood: Fun

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Paul Leahy is an unassuming person, thin to the point of skinny, with a gentle and quiet energy. And very shy. You'd be forgiven for not recognizing in him the dynamo behind Polly. On stage it's like he draws energy from the universe and blasts it through his voice and his guitar, changing from mild mannered man to superstar.

Of course, he'd be embarrassed to hear it told like that. He's very humble about his music.

Music is a simple thing for Paul, in that way that only makes things sound simple that are actually rich and complex. Music, for Paul, is about joy, about connection. His songs aren't about deep issues. Yet like any great storyteller, through them he is able to communicate something that is at once specific, but universal, evoking a moment. This is no "hey baby, baby" pop music, but something much more.

This album is an important one for Paul, beyond the importance of being his debut solo album. It came after a dark time when he saw the possibility of ever making such an album recede. The recording began as a kind of test to see if he could do it. He used a small studio nestled amongst the auto body shops down the street from his home in New Westminster.

Which leads to perhaps the most amazing piece in the story of this remarkable album. It's truly a solo affair. Paul performed every track of every song from drums to vocals to bass to piano to harmony to lead guitar and tambourine, as well as writing and arranging each song. The first song he recorded was Roll 'Way the Stone, kind of a pilot. After that he just kept going.

Where Paul truly comes alive is the live show. And Paul is not a newcomer to the live music scene. He's well known as a spectacular rock guitar player. [Although at home you're more likely to hear him playing classical. He's very fond of Mauro Giuliani.] As a young man he played with the Toys and No Fun as the guitar guy, and more recently upfront with the Transvestimentals and Pleasure Suit. This album is really the culmination of years refining his craft through the simple act of practicing it.

People often describe Paul's style as Mott the Hoople-like or reference groups like T. Rex when talking about him, which he finds both pleasing and embarrassing. He doesn't like to set himself up with people whom he idolized as a teenager. (But he did sand off the top of his Les Paul because Mick Ronson did.) However, another icon of the Vancouver music scene, Nicholas David Jones of the Pointed Sticks once told his wife that "Polly live is the closest you'll get to seeing David Bowie in the early 70s."

And whether or not you agree with the comparisons once you've listened to the album, the biggest selling point to Polly it that he, it, the album and him live, are just solidly entertaining. You'll be listening to this disc for years.