By Paddy Casey
Paddy Casey has a severe case of David Gray-itis - huge in Ireland, but pretty unheard of over here. This LP was kept off the Irish top spot by Dido - and then by only 86 measly copies. It's now double platinum. Chances are though that you'll have seen him somewhere along the line, he's supported everyone from Reef to the Pretenders via REM over the past six years.
Paddy writes the most beautiful, honest ballads ('Everybody Wants' from his debut LP is still one of my favourite songs ever) he has a brilliant talent for being able to nail an emotion exactly with results that soothe your ears and pull your heartstrings in equal measure. Here however Paddy is trying something different. Many of the songs are more up-tempo, danceable little numbers, just made for tripping out an Irish jig to. This works with tracks like 'Saints and Sinners' with its simple, nursery rhyme melody which is infectiously catchy, but it teeters worryingly on the brink of the twee.
'Don't Need Anyone's vocoder-laced chorus is just a bit, well, naff. The vocoder comes out again in 'Miracle' and it becomes clear that Paddy's natural environment just isn't pop. But that's ok, because when he pulls tracks like 'Stumble' and 'Anyone That's Yet To Come' out of the bag his true songwriting talent is abundantly clear.
The theme running throughout Living is the trauma of coming from a small town, the cabin fever and the not fitting in, and the joy at getting out of it. The album sounds at times like Suede's limping last effort 'New Morning', and at times it's so damn Irish it could have been recorded by a leprechaun covered in shamrocks drinking a pint of Guinness while doing River Dance. That said, when Paddy does what he does best, singing tales of love, be it lost, unrequited or true, it is impossible not to fall for him.