East to West
Features a duet with bluegrass icon Ralph Stanley
Full of effortless pop smarts and early rock n roll style, casting his creative powers in a whole new light and elevating his craft. Think Buddy Holly in Nashville duds.
Inspired by the input of friends he didn't know he had, Paul's East to West is full of spirited storytelling, both rousing and solemn, each song unfolding like a small movie. The result is full of effortless pop smarts and early rock n roll style, casting his creative powers in a whole new light and elevating his craft. It's also the best damn record he's ever made.
East to West was recorded in part at Mark Knopfler's British Grove Studios in London. With backing from the WPA Ballclub and Grammy-award winners Ralph Stanley, Tim O'Brien, and Mark Knopfler himself, East to West captured the first takes in the studio, all undeniably alive with a Buddy Holly-tinged fire. The disc includes a clever nod to John Peel ("John Peel"), inspired by a night of singing and record spinning with the legend himself, and another song with bluegrass icon Ralph Stanley, recorded at the legendary RCA Studio B in Nashville.
Let's let Paul tell the story of the record his own bad self:
"There was nothing else I've ever wanted to do except to make records. But before making East to West, I had the nagging feeling: 'What if no one is listening?' Many of the colleagues that I had started in the business with had either stopped making records or burned out. The quirk of the music business is--the farther along you go, the less people there are to talk to about keeping at it and getting better.
Just as I was feeling most sorry for myself, three unusual things happened within a month's time to change my mind. The first was a short tour I did with Laura Cantrell and Ralph Stanley in England. I had never met Ralph before. But every night, Ralph would ask that a chair be put in the wings, off stage and each night he'd say "What time does the boy come on? I want to hear the boy sing," and he'd sit from my first note to my last. To me, Ralph is one of the greatest American voices ever recorded. To have him talk to me every night and sense, without me ever having to say anything, that I was at a turning point, was incredible. When we recorded 'Little Glass of Wine' live, we had the finished take after singing together for 20 minutes. He told me in confidence it was like 'singing with Carter again.'
Right after that tour, Laura took me along to her session with John Peel at his home. Quickly, Peel and I hit it off, talking about music, going through his library. He looked me square in the eye and said 'You can't ever stop. You're born to do it.' He played me on his show the following week and passed away within the next year.
Lastly, came a letter from out of the blue from Mark Knopfler. Through a mutual friend, I had asked about a microphone recommendation, assuming we shared a lot of influences. Mark suddenly became my pen pal, complimenting me about my work, my writing, my voice. (I didn't now he was a fan!) Before long--with only meeting me once--he encouraged me to come to London and put all my concentration into getting a new record started at his studio. He even interrupted his vacation time (during my sessions) to drive hours back into London to cheer us on and join us for 'Before the Bells.'
So--there you have it. The business can go to hell and it probably will, but Ralph, Peel, and Mark live on. I don't know if I could have made this or any other record without them. If it only sells five copies, I know three great voices stepped forward to say 'don't stop,' probably because they've been there. I hope I can do the same for somebody else sometime."