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MP3 Paul O'Brien - Sacred Lines

Celtic inflected acoustic folk through a modern pop/rock filter

11 MP3 Songs in this album (48:55) !
Related styles: FOLK: Modern Folk, FOLK: Folk Pop

At the age of 38, after spending his entire adult life as a touring musician based in the UK, Paul O’Brien turned off and checked out, moving with his family to Canada’s Pacific Northwest. He planned to leave his musical instruments behind, but packed them anyway.

Before his move to BC in 2004, O’Brien made his living as a musician in the UK. From the age of sixteen, he played everything from pub gigs to folk festivals, folk clubs and private concerts in the UK, Europe the States and the Middle East. In the steady round of engagements, he left himself little time to create and produce his own work. Eventually, feeling creatively stifled and desperately unhappy as a musician, he left the UK for a fresh start as a classroom teacher in Canada. But the gifted songwriter thrashing around inside him wanted OUT.

Canada itself, and the immigration experience, created a tectonic shift in O’Brien, unleashing a creative energy he had long suppressed. While teaching full time, O’Brien produced two CDs of original songs which met with overwhelmingly positive response. He quickly connected with well-known professional folk musicians in the Pacific Northwest, and has collaborated with them on their own albums. His full-time teaching job became a part-time teaching job, and then he left teaching entirely to develop his career as singer-songwriter. He is about to release Plastic, his third CD of original material.

O’Brien has a great deal to say, not only about his own experiences which are “pretty universal”, but also about Canada, which he describes as an incredible country with a past and present full of stories to tell through his songs. He is a songwriter with deep roots and broad horizons. An English-born child of Irish immigrants, he cut his teeth on Irish music. In the long tradition of folk / roots artists everywhere, O’Brien helps keep his musical roots alive by teaching guitar, mandolin and bodhran, the traditional Irish drum. (In fact, he is a virtuosic bodhran player, and will sometimes treat the audience to a hypnotic interlude of drumming.) But almost from the beginning of his career he listened to very diverse material – everything from new English folk to reggae. As a teenager he had his own reggae band which was heavily influenced by UB40 and The Beat. Even back then, he didn’t colour inside the lines.

A natural story teller, O’Brien has developed an eclectic folk style that is broadly appealing and not easily categorized. His musical roots, his experiences as an immigrant, musician and teacher, his natural instinct for humour and storytelling, and his empathy for the underdog have combined to produce an insightful and entertaining artist. Paul O’Brien’s concerts are dynamic affairs, and his connection with the audience is palpable. No room is too large or too small for him. In the space of one song, he can take his audience from foot stomping energy to the absolute stillness of choked-back tears. It’s hard to get him off the stage.

Though his return to music was perhaps inevitable, O’Brien the singer-songwriter is older, wiser and more careful with his creative gifts than he was in the UK. Top priority is creating and performing his own material, and collaborating with other professional singer-songwriters working in the broader folk genre. His own recordings are engineered to the highest commercial standards: Plastic was produced by Juno-nominated artist Joby Baker. There are concerts lined up, including a summer 2008 folk festival in the Queen Charlottes. O’Brien has a twenty four-date tour in England, Scotland and Ireland in Feb'' 2009, as well as a tour of Germany planned for September ''09.

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