Listening to the music of Guy Paul Thibault, it would be easy to assume he’s from somewhere like Nashville, Tennessee. In reality the singer/songwriter/guitarist – who plays tremendously satisfying folk music with strong country and rock influences – hails from beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada. An accomplished musician, Guy Paul has written, recorded and produced six albums on his own. He’s also played acoustic, electric, bass and slide guitar, and sang vocals for original acts and cover bands. In June he released a new album It’s About Time, an appropriate title given the span of 17 years since his last solo album.
I’ve always loved songs that tell a story, and It’s About Time is loaded with them. Let me state right here that Guy Paul is an incredible wordsmith. Through poetic, heartfelt, and sometimes humorous lyrics, his songs address the oft-covered subjects of life, love and heartbreak, but in ways that reveal the contradictory facets of good and evil inherent in each of us. Furthermore, these colorful stories are delivered with his sublime vocals and accompanied by some pretty nifty acoustic and electric guitar. I usually like to highlight a few song lyrics in my reviews, but in this case I’ll be featuring quite a lot of them.
“Here She Comes” kicks off the album with a pleasing country-rock rhythm. Guy Paul instantly hooks us in with his laid back vocal delivery and nimble acoustic guitar. Gentle percussion sets the beat and the sweet violin in the bridge is a nice touch.
One of the best ‘story’ tracks is “Misdemeanor,” a catchy, guitar-driven and wry tune about an older woman who’s still got it, and always out looking for a good time:
Takes the complications with a delicate smile
Avoids one night affairs, well she has for a while
That’s what she says
Well, hello boys is her natural style
Moves on her prey like a cat in the wild
With a closer look, well she’s showing her age
But she’s still got her wit and she’s still got those legs
Ahh those legs
Guy Paul turns serious with “Hills,” a compelling song about people living a hardscrabble existence in rural America who’ve endured more than their fair share of military service and the consequential casualties, PTSD and societal breakdown:
You can hide a body forever in these hills
A thousand square miles and a hundred little stills
They took us from our homes and taught us how to fight
Now justice comes in the middle of the night
Now terror comes in the middle of the night
He strums his guitar with a forcefulness to match the searing lyrics, backed by an assertive military drumbeat and mournful harmonica. The generous use of electric guitar and bass also lend greater impact to the track.
The poignant “Tallest Man on Earth” addresses the realization that the father you once idolized, thinking you wanted to be like him, wasn’t so high in stature after all:
When I was just a young man, trying not to fall
The only thing that seemed to matter was growing up and being tall
Growing tall brings great things, like seeing past the trees
You can’t hear the whispers, your head up in the breeze
He seemed the tallest man on earth
His heart died alone they say, running against the wall
He never could comprehend life wasn’t about being tall
He seemed the tallest man on earth
The smallest man on earth
Another powerful and standout track is “We Just Don’t Care,” a hard-hitting country-rock anthem that speaks to the apathy and sense of futility caused by feelings of betrayal by society and our government. Those sentiments are expressed by an attitude of entitlement – ‘I want what’s owed to me, and to hell with everyone else’:
Sacrifice is such a lonely word
There’s not much left in this world
We’re all trying the best we can
Can’t see the beach for the grains of sand
Belief is just a long-lost dream
Slowly fades from what I’ve seen
Lack faith in our fellow man
Lost in time a simple slight of hand
This is how we are now
And we just don’t care
Guy Paul shows us his rocker side on “Saving Grace,” a rousing song with a driving beat and lots of terrific electric and rhythm guitar riffs. One of my favorite tracks is “Saturday Night,” a catchy and breezy country song about hooking up with strangers to avoid being lonely. The lyrics are rather bittersweet until he lightens things up at the end:
It’s alright, I still got my friends
That’s what I’m talkin’ about
Hey wait a minute, is that another bottle over there?
Same time next week?
“Stay (For Riley)” is a lovely but wistful ballad about saying goodbye to a loved one – or a pet perhaps? “You were my best friend, chased all of my fears. Now you live in every tear. Stay.” Guy Paul serves up jangly guitar riffs on “If I Had,” a really nice folk tune about dreaming of enjoying life by hitting the road in his car with a girl and guitar. Wrapping up the album is the sorrowful “How Far Could I Fall.” The country song speaks of hitting bottom after his girl left him and he sought comfort with booze and drugs.
It’s About Time is well worth the wait of 17 years, as it’s superb on every level. In addition to Guy Paul’s impressive songwriting and musicianship, he was assisted on the album by the musical talents of David Bradshaw and Shawn Cherry.