Paul Hyde The Big Book Of Sad Songs, Vol. 1

Like most artists who first gained notoriety in the image conscious '80s, Paul Hyde continues to work hard to get out from under that stigma. While he will probably always be known as the leader of the Payolas, along with Bob Rock, here he attempts to get away from all that as possible with a collection of fragile acoustic songs that echo the folk music of his British heritage. This type of recording has probably been long overdue for Hyde, as his best songs always seemed to be buried by overbearing production (most often courtesy of Rock, unfortunately). Here, his songs have nowhere to hide (pardon the pun) and his well-crafted lyrics come across clearly and sharply. There's a resolutely cynical edge to most of them that recalls Richard Thompson, and also a remarkable sense that these songs are best suited to be heard in a small British pub at closing time; Hyde regaling the bleary-eyed patrons with one more rollicking tale of hardship and woe. I for one raise my glass in admiration. (Bongo Beat)