Take a Wish

Digital download and CD (with lyrics booklet) available from Bandcamp.

Ten of Paul’s contemporary folk compositions on his 2003 debut solo album.

Wexford-based singer-songwriter Paul O’Reilly blends folk, country and traditional styles in equal measure on this impressive self-produced debut. Though claiming influences from James Taylor, Neil Young and Bob Dylan among others, his main inspiration appears to lie much closer to home. Jimmy McCarthy is one clear influence on his song writing approach – you could easily imagine Mary Black performing a song like ‘Be With You’ or the poignant title track. With its shuffling country rhythm, ‘Expressions’ is more than slightly reminiscent of Mick Hanley’s ‘Past The Point Of Rescue’ while the tin whistle accompaniment lends a song like ‘Run Now Run’ a strong traditional feel.

His lyrical subject matter is in the main introspective, dealing with life and relationships in all their complexities. But he’s not afraid to tackle serious issues such as a failing marriage (‘Leave The Key Behind’) or domestic violence (‘Bobby’s Tears’). He even broaches the thorny subject of current Middle-Eastern politics on ‘Arabs Tent’ – a song that sonically evokes the spirit of Moving Heart’s classic ‘Hiroshima Nagasaki (Russian Roulette)’.

While the production and acoustic accompaniment is stripped down with minimal studio gimmickry, the arrangements are sympathetically carried out. O’Reilly is an impressive guitar player too, as evidenced by the fret-work on ‘Ode To See’ which is very much in the style of Paul Brady’s ‘Arthur McBride’.

O’Reilly shows plenty of promise here.

Colm O’ Hare – Hotpress – 21/01/2004

I first came across the superb musical talent of Paul O’Reilly at the Wexford Songwriters Club, at one of our regular Tuesday night shows in Finnegan’s, South Main Street, Wexford. Paul is a powerfully melodic singer, with a masterful touch on his well-crafted guitar accompaniments. So it was an exiting prospect to be asked to review his album Take A Wish, and this recording certainly didn’t disappoint. From the soulfully plaintive, Ode to See, to the more upbeat Expressions, to the country roots feel of Leave the Key Behind, Paul takes us down a diverse musical road that is paved with expressive lyrics and richly woven accompaniments. Throughout the album, Paul’s words are a prime example of how to express feelings without soppy sentimentality. The opening love song, Be With You, hits the mark without descending into worn-out clichés. There is social comment here too. The Arabs Tent, encompasses the wars in the Middle East and shows off the virtuosity of Richard King (formerly of Threepenny Opera) on lead guitar and dobro. Paul demonstrates the breadth of his scope in The Prom Song, which deals with a down-and-out man and his life. This is a folk song in the Stockton’s Wing mode, with a haunting whistle accompaniment from Padraig Sinnott of Fonn. In fact, in the course of this recording, Paul surrounds himself with other great musicians. Shelly O’Reilly gives outstanding piano performances on Be With You and Goodbye, while Siobhan McCormack adds a beautiful female dimension to the vocals on Leave the Key Behind. M.J. O’Reilly’s harmonica on the heart-rending Bobby’s Tears is subtle and tuneful. Throughout the album, and especially on the title track, Paul’s vocals and harmonies are well polished. Also, his bass and bouzouki playing both give perfect rhythmic depth his well-crafted arrangements. Paul recorded, engineered and mixed these songs at his home and the professional quality of this album is a testimony to this man’s range of talents. Kieran Goss better move over, there is a new kid, and a new voice, on the block.

Ian Barry – Wexford Song Club – 16/07/2004