Carrack’s happy to be flying solo

SINGER-songwriter Paul Carrack is relishing the fact he is now recognized as a solo act.

“It’s taken a while for me to establish myself as a solo artist, about ten years in fact; and it’s great,” he says just before embarking on a mammoth tour of the UK.

“I’ve got a great band who have mostly been with me for ten years and a great crew.”

Sheffield-born Paul first came to people’s attention in the mid-Seventies as a member of Ace, whose evergreen hit How Long was written by him.

From Ace, he moved into the keyboard slot vacated by Jools Holland in Squeeze, for whom he wrote – and sang lead on – the hit Tempted.

Then, after a stint in Roxy Music and as a member of Mike + The Mechanics, be brought life into songs such as Silent Running and The Living Years.

As a songwriter, apart from the songs already mentioned, he co-wrote I Don’t Want To Hear Any More for Eagles, among many others.

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He has always had a soft spot for How Long, though.

“It’s endured in a big way,” he says. “And I still enjoy performing it.”

“However,” he adds, “I think I’ve written better songs, such as I Don’t Want To Hear Any More.”

In fact, that track - performed by himself with Eagle stalwarts Timothy B Schmitt and Don Henley - is on his last album entitled I Know That Name, which also includes Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City and his classic Eyes Of Blue.

“Actually, it’s been out a few years now,” he confides. “It did brilliantly well, not so much in sales but in airplay and getting bums on seats at the live shows.

“So I’m happy that I’ve got a brand new album out.”

The new album - A Different Hat, released in October - is a departure for Paul as it’s an orchestral album.

“I’ve been wanting to do this ever since Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now,” he explains.

The album has Paul singing with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; the numbers include Moon River, Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying and Paul’s own Eyes Of Blue.

But not How Long, his best known number.

Paul says: “It was considered, but I’ve recorded it lots of times and decided against it. Maybe next time.”

The album’s title comes from the fact Paul is being a little different.

“It just means I’m in a different area; for instance there’s no electric guitar or drums on the album.

“I’m very pleased with it. It was a massive learning curve and I felt out of my depth on the orchestral arrangements, but we had a capable guy in Dave Cullen.”

The style of the album meant Paul had to change his own sound.

“That’s right, I changed my vocal style a bit. It made me sing softer and unless it’s a complete disaster I’d love to do another album like it.”

His soulful voice can tackle just about any type of song and passion permeates every note he sings, as evidenced on the album.

He’s no slouch on the live stage either.

Being a man of many talents, he doesn’t see himself as just a performer or songwriter.

“All of them really,” he says.

“I really enjoy performing out there with the band; there’s the satisfaction of doing a good gig and seeing all the smiling faces of the audience.

“It wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t write another song.” Paul adds.

“But I want to keep on producing new things, however you don’t get the instant gratification that a live audience gives you.”

The tour started in October and after a short break for Christmas, is set to go on until mid-March, a bit of a grueller.

“No, not at all. “ Paul hastens to point out.

“It’s what we do and it’s not grueling at all. The early part of the tour has been fantastic and I honestly feel as if each tour has been better than the one before.

“It is quite hard work, but we do have days off and we get to go home most nights.”

The show itself will be made up of numbers cherry-picked from Paul’s illustrious career.

“We’ll be doing the well-known songs and some of my recent solo stuff; in the middle there may be four or five songs from the new album.”

To relax, Paul goes back to his Yorkshire roots - which to be honest, he has never left if his accent is anything to go by.

“I’m a big football fan,” He said.

“But being a Sheffield Wednesday fan at the moment is far from relaxing.”

After this tour ends in March, there won’t be much time for relaxation.

“That’s right,” he says.

“We end up doing things all over the continent, just odds and sods at the moment.”

Paul’s band is comprised of himself and seven others, including trumpet, sax and a female vocalist in the form of Lyndsay Dracass, who represented the UK in The Eurovision Song Contest back in 2001.

“She’s come on a lot since then and is very talented,” Paul says. “I’ve also got my son on a second drum kit.”

For an evening of superb musicianship and emotive vocals, Paul Carrack is unbeatable.

“We enjoy the touring, and it works, judging by the audiences.” he concludes, “Long may it continue.”

Paul Carrack and his band will be appearing at The Regent, Ipswich on December 2.