Paul Kloschinsky’s career spans five albums and the latest, Nobody Knows, brings together many of the same elements distinguishing his earlier releases. Thoughtful songwriting, solid structures, sharp instrumental talents, and a frequent emphasis on melody helped set his work apart from many contemporaries and those strengths abide on Nobody Knows. The album’s songwriting spirit, however, takes some unexpected turns along the way and they enliven an already sturdy work with a sense of daring and anything is possible desperately lacking, usually, in such releases. Kloschinsky is never a paint by numbers performer or songwriter. Even his DIY method of recording brings an unusual veneer to the work and helps weave added atmospherics where otherwise none might have existed. Kloschinsky turns everything to his uses on Nobody Knows and the result is an impressive ten song collection.
He kicks the album off nicely. “Fallin’ For You” doesn’t tackle any new subject matter for popular song, but Kloschinsky pours old wine into new bottles with more than a little style and facility. He keeps his guitar playing practical and quite direct – there’s no virtuoso trips on a Paul Kloschinsky album and not a single gratuitous note to be found. The same economical artistic vision helps shape the title song into one of the album’s marquee numbers. It’s one of the album’s best examples of understatement while still carrying a discernible personal flourish that sets it far apart from similar efforts in this vein. Klonschinsky often shows a wise and knowing sense of life’s absurdities that eludes music’s more literal minded songwriters. The slow swirl of strings and light percussion married with Kloschinsky’s acoustic guitar molds “Do You Remember?” into one of the album’s finest moments. The melancholy melody never overtaxes listeners with over-familiarity and lulls you in from its opening notes.
“Ravish Me” sprints out of the gate with a sprightly bounce that’s equal parts pop confection and even hints of commercial alt-rock bleeding through. There’s little question that, if he so desired, many of Kloschinsky’s songs could find new life as rock tracks and “Ravish Me” is no exception. He has a sharp ear for melody that never lets him down. “Can’t Forget About You” has a ton of propulsive energy and never relents from the first bar onward. Klonschinsky delivers an appropriately laconic vocal, but he’s attentive enough to varying his phrasing at key points for more effect. “Until You Said Goodbye” affords Kloschinsky a final opportunity to indulge his love for orchestral influenced pop music. The results are much more mixed than earlier efforts thanks to any uneasy union between the vocal delivery and lush backing track, but the song is far from irredeemable. Instead, it feels unfinished somehow, tantalizingly close to its fullest realization, but still falling just a little short of its potential. “Tell Everybody” is a nice late addition to the album thanks to its brisk pace and jaunty musical voice.
Artists like Paul Klonschinsky and his songwriting sensibility is increasingly rare in these fragmented times. However, these lonely voices are still wandering the wilderness, spreading their songs, and investing their time and heart into a tradition long predating them and sure to survive them. Paul Klonschinsky is a proud member of that tradition. His songs on Nobody Knows, like the four albums preceding it, are well worth your time and money.
9 out of 10 stars.