This album must hold some sort of record for being the longest delayed solo debut in history, it being almost twenty years since Dubliner Paul Cleary disbanded his cult neo-mod outfit The Blades. Recorded over three months in a variety of locations, Crooked Town is a raw, passionate slice of urban angst that re-establishes Cleary as an exceptionally sharp and literate songwriter. The instrumentation is sparse and the production rough and ready, resulting in a crisp, acoustic sound that's reminiscent of a stripped-down Elvis Costello. It all fits in remarkably well with the songs' subject matter, which ranges from the downside of club culture to Celtic Tiger racism. Without doubt, one of the most welcome comebacks of the year - now, any chance of a follow-up before the decade is out?
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