Staten Island native and former touring guitarist for Charles Bradley steps out on his own with a soulful, vocally idiosyncratic debut.
How you feel about Paul and the Tall Trees’ Our Love in the Light will be largely predicated on how you respond to lead singer Paul Schalda’s voice. His is more times than not a throaty, phlegmatic punk-informed howl that more times than not stands in sharp contrast to the soulful Americana instrumentation (often with an incongruous but ultimately weirdly successful hint of New Wave) backing him. If you can get past this somewhat off-putting approach (though, as it’s played up throughout, it’s clearly meant to be the main differentiating and selling point), Our Love in the Light offers up 10 good to great tracks or gorgeously warm and melodic tracks.
Going from one extreme to the other, “The Little Bit of Sunshine” finds Schalda engaging in full-blown histrionics while the next track, “Once in a While", is a delicate, shuffling ballad featuring an atypically restrained performance. This range of diversity, coupled with the interesting, ‘60s-inspired arrangements make for a compelling listen throughout the album’s brief, sub-30-minute running time. Schalda is a clearly talented musician and, with Our Love in the Light, has delivered an exceptionally promising, fully-realized debut.