Paul Carrack returns with a brand new studio album and is ready to reach new heights with These Days, released on 7th September on his own record label, Carrack-UK.
In addition to the release of These Days, Paul will embark on an extensive 30-date UK tour for 2019, which begins on 18th January in Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall, and ends on 24th March at The Lowry in Salford.
These Days is Paul’s 17th album, a run that began way back in 1980, but which has been building real, independent momentum since he formed his record label in 2000 with the landmark Satisfy My Soul album release.
Before then, Paul’s breakthrough moment came when he wrote and sang How Long, the much-covered 1974 classic from his days with Ace, and was the voice of Tempted from his tenure with Squeeze. Then came such hits with Mike + the Mechanics and a cover by the Eagles which won a hugely prestigious ASCAP Award as Song of the Year.
Diana Ross, no less, covered Carrack’s co-write with Nick Lowe, Battlefield, and as an in-demand collaborator, Paul’s decades of distinction include sessions with the Smiths, Roxy Music, B.B. King and countless others, culminating in a request from Eric Clapton to join his touring band. That rare honour comes up-to-date in the summer of 2018 with their homecoming performance in London’s Hyde Park.
Since the turn of the century, instead of making other artists look great, Paul has quietly built a huge, loyal fan base, an audience that not only devours his albums, but turns out to see his frequent, extensive tours in their thousands. He’s done that the only way he knows; making high-quality, accessible pop-soul with unmissable hooks and lyrics that say something about all of our lives.
That’s truer than ever on These Days. The album’s stunning line-up features Paul on keyboards and guitar and regular bandmate Jeremy Meek on bass, joined by Robbie McIntosh (Paul McCartney, Pretenders, Norah Jones, John Mayer) on lead guitar and drummer Steve Gadd, Paul’s Eric Clapton bandmate who has graced the work of everyone from Steely Dan to James Taylor.
As if their exemplary playing wasn’t enough, the album’s horn section is hand-picked and overseen by the mighty Pee Wee Ellis, the American saxophone ace who was an integral part of James Brown’s shows and records of the vintage Cold Sweat era. Five tracks on These Days have lyrics by Paul’s friend, former Squeeze bandmate and consummate wordsmith Chris Difford.
As usual, the new songs started in Carrack’s home studio, but they came to life in a different and exciting way this time. “I don’t write a song and then do a demo,” he explains. “It’s a little nugget of an idea and I start messing about with it, chipping away and it becomes something. Usually, that’s completed and that becomes the album.
“In this case, I took a lot of the songs quite a way, but then we decided we wanted to make it a bit more performance-based and with some other influences. I’ve been playing with Eric for about five years now, and I just mentioned it to Steve Gadd, was it something he might be interested in, and he was very keen.”
When Gadd said he’d be coming through the UK on the way home from a European tour with Chick Corea, Paul seized the moment and booked into Air Studios in London for three days to cut a dozen tracks as a band, before taking it back to his home studio.
There was another moment of reflection when Carrack came to choose the striking cover image for the album, as he rifled through a box of his late father’s photographs. “When you go through these things, you realise you’ve come a hell of a long way,” he muses. The gorgeous image is of Paul’s brother. “That’s us on holiday,” he says. “We’re living it large there; I think it’s probably the Isle of Wight. Man, that was exotic back in the day. We had pretty humble beginnings.”
These Days is grown-up pop music made by, and for, people who’ve had the ups and downs that life unfailingly provides. “It’s about getting to an age, and appreciating what you’ve got,” says Carrack. “I hope it will resonate with people who are going through the same stuff. It’s not being frightened of it, and just trying to enjoy it.”
Carrack will be playing at York Barbican on January 26th 2019.