Paul F. Cowlan

Paul F. Cowlan

Currently available from Brambus Records:

Out of the Sun

Paul Cowlan - Paper Devils & Spirits of Fire
  1. strange affair
  2. snow queen
  3. name of the game
  4. out of the sun
  5. turn to me
  6. pessimism blues
  7. ericusa
  8. winging home
  1. closer than your breathing
  2. stairway
  3. bad news boogie
  4. pictures in the air
  5. reflections
  6. legend
  7. the wind's harp
  8. beachwear calypso

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Those who have learned to expect the unexpected from this very individual songwriter will not be disappointed by his latest sixteen track offering. From dry, biting satire (Bad News Boogie) to the world of myth (Stairway and Snow Queen); from hard political comment (Winging Home) to alchemy (Out of the Sun), Cowlan's trademark of eclectic subject matter and unexpected arrangements weaves through the Blues (Pessimism Blues and Strange Affair) to lyrical romance (Turn to me and The Wind's Harp). His wicked humour is well illustrated by Beachwear Calypso, and there's even an instrumental (Ericusa). Would you be surprised to hear that track 13 (Reflections) is a Spencerian sonnet about the fickleness of mirrors, composed while waiting in the dentist's chair? Probably not!

This is Paul's seventh release with Brambus, and as ever his acoustic guitar, raunchy harmonica and expressive vocals comprise the heart of the album; but the electric guitar, bass and percussion of Ljubo Majstorovic, together with Sandro Friedrich's wind instruments, Uschi Laar's harp and Chris Leslie's fiddle ensure that there is always a refreshing variety of mood. Some Notes to each song:

A song for all the lovers I never actually met; and for one or two whom I did meet, but who never became lovers.

2) SNOW QUEEN (Tuning C G D G C D)
Memories of cold, white, beautiful winters; and cold, white, beautiful dreamers.

3) NAME OF THE GAME (Tuning C G D G C D)
There’s a Latin saying, ‘The autumn of the beautiful is beautiful.’
Maybe, but it’s never an easy transition.

4) OUT OF THE SUN (Tuning D A D G B D)
A song with alchemical roots, examining the different ways in which the title might be understood. With a nod towards the closing words of Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon', I might add, "There's nowhere out of the sun. It's all out of the sun, really."

5) TURN TO ME (Tuning C G D G C D)
For Gabriele. The song, I hope, says it all.

When looking on the negative side makes you feel positive, you really do have the

7) ERICUSA (Tuning C G D G C D)
I, literally, dreamed this instrumental on the little island paradise of Alicudi, woke to a breathtaking sunrise over the sea, picked up my guitar, put it into the ‘C suspended’ tuning, and found the chords, with tears of astonished wonder in my eyes.
Sadly, this story is absolutely true.

Another song for Gabriele, the companion of my heart during this uncertain walk through Time. As Andrew Marvell wrote, over three hundred years ago:
‘But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near.'

10) STAIRWAY (Tuning D G D G Bb D)
The world of myth sometimes walks very close to the everyday sunlit world. So close, in fact, that just occasionally they coincide.

11) BAD NEWS BOOGIE (Tuning D G D G Bb D)
Written in escalating disbelief as international financial wizards first nose-dived the economy, ruining thousands of honest investors and re-possessing their hard won homes, collected staggering bail-outs of tax-payers’ money - namely, the money paid by many of those whom they had ruined - and then blithely carried on exactly as before, while continuing to award themselves the usual obscene bonuses.

On a visit to Pisa, many years ago, my Dad took frame after frame of ‘wonderful pictures’, continuing to do so until we realised that there was no film in the camera. He died in 2000 and, in a strange way, those pictures in the air were never really lost.

13) REFLECTIONS (Tuning C G D G C D)
This is a Spencerian sonnet, written while waiting in the dentist’s chair. No, I don't very often compose in this setting.

14) LEGEND (Tuning: Standard)
My diary entry for Tuesday October 28th 1969 reads. ‘Write letter to Regency Press. Write song ‘Legend’. Begin Aristotle’s Ethics.’ Over half a lifetime ago! I wasn’t always so misguided in my choice of publishers, so economical with words, or so abstruse in my choice of reading matter! Aristotle's Ethics remains unfinished.!

15) THE WIND’S HARP (Tuning C G D G C D)
A fleeting glimpse of a brief reflection of a lightning moment in a world beyond Time.

16) BEACHWEAR CALYPSO (Tuning: Standard)
Written as a result of observations during a holiday in the Dutch Antilles. After one German concert a very intense young woman, with a sour expression and hair like an ill-used toothbrush, informed me pointedly that this song was politically incorrect! I’m proud to say that she was right.

More infos and concert dates:


Paul Cowlan - Paper Devils & Spirits of Fire
  9. GAMES
  5. BURA

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Caught at the Crossroads

Paul Cowlan - Caught at the Crossroads
  1. Gemini Boys and Girls
  2. Going For The Gold
  3. F/M Blues
  4. Backtracks
  5. Going Wrong
  6. Ciphers
  7. Could Have Loved You
  8. The Quantum, Relative, Cosmic Blues
  1. Caught at the Crossroads
  2. Granfer's Double
  3. Blow By Blow
  4. Contraband
  5. Oxford Eastertime
  6. Handy Man
  7. Politically Erect

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Second Class Hotel

Paul Cowlan - Second Class Hotel
  1. City With a Broken Heart
  2. Navigators
  3. Piazza Grande
  4. Het Kafe
  5. Living On The Other Side
  6. Some Other Time
  7. Second-Class Hotel
  8. Shady Ladies
  1. Voices in the Night
  2. Under the Ice
  3. This Time
  4. A Simple Question
  5. Old Songs
  6. The Ladies Gave Me Roses
  7. You Never Really Knew Me

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Walking to the Moon

Paul Cowlan - Walking to the Moon
  1. Home To You
  2. Shadows
  3. Walking To The Moon
  4. The Devil's Footpath
  5. Making Waves
  6. Cages of Steel
  7. Harlem Tuesday
  8. Bekkelia Blues
  9. Cages of Steel
  1. Harlem Tuesday
  2. Bekkelia Blues
  3. Talking to the Air
  4. Ripples
  5. Room With A View
  6. kMainhattan Shuffle Bidet Bureaucratin's Eurolooney Bungle
  7. Exeter Cathedral Rag
  8. Tales of an Aristocratic Canine Redolence

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Paper Devils & Spirits of Fire

Paul Cowlan - Paper Devils & Spirits of Fire
  1. Out In The Open
  2. Long, Hot Summer
  3. Venus in Furs
  4. Paper Devils and Spirits of Fire
  5. Dangerous Age
  6. Magpies
  7. After The Show
  8. A Transylvanian Liebestod
  1. One of Those Days
  2. The Mysterous Case of Sherlock Holmes
  3. Claptrap Rap
  4. Oddsock Blues
  5. Hot Robin or the Sherwood Forest Fitness Freak-out
  6. The English Blues

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Whispers on the Turning Ground

Paul Cowlan - Paper Devils & Spirits of Fire
  1. underground
  2. piece-work
  3. a ploy named sue
  4. in deep
  5. they say
  6. king sun, queen moon
  7. strangers
  8. killers
  1. scorpio rising
  2. the word
  3. what the blues is for
  4. last on the hill
  5. harley girl
  6. woman i love
  7. in passing
  8. ad astra

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Mit „WHISPERS ON THE TURNING GROUND“ liegt Paul Cowlans achtes Album vor, das sechste bei Brambus und, wie seine Fans es gewohnt sind, individuell und persönlich wie immer.

Das Album präsentiert einen reifen Cowlan. Sechzehn Songs, die auch
soziale Satire und politische Kommentare beinhalten; eine alchemistische
Liebesgeschichte gehört ebenso dazu wie ein Wort mit magischen Fähigkeiten, Erinnerungen und Introspektion sowie die Antwort auf die ewige Frage: „Wofür ist der Blues da?“. Und eine Reise zu den Sternen ist auch dabei.

Die Satire ist gewürzt mit Pauls charakteristischem Humor und, wie so
typisch für seine Texte, in einem Moment lassen sie den Zuhörer hilflos
vor Lachen, im nächsten den Tränen nahe. Nach dreißig Jahren im
Musikgeschäft ist Pauls Gespür treffsicher wie immer.

Der Titel dieses Albums ist eine Zeile aus dem siebten Song „STRANGERS“ und das Thema der Veränderung, das Weiterdrehen des Rades, die Vergänglichkeit der Zeit, spiegelt sich überall wieder, nicht zuletzt auch in der grafischen Gestaltung. Paul ist Romantiker und Humorist, er liebt das Leben und träumt seine Träume, aber er ist auch fest verwurzelt im realen Leben.

Wie er selbst in der Einführung schreibt:

Ich entschuldige mich nicht für die politische Gewichtung der ersten acht
Titel. In gewisser Weise kreisen alle Songs um „Killer“ , denn obwohl ich
mich nicht als besonders politisch beschreiben würde, wäre es schwierig
nach dem 11. September zu leben und seinem fortbestehenden Erbe, ohne dass sich Einflüsse in meiner Musik wieder finden würden. Die Songs im zweiten Teil beziehen sich dann wieder auf eine Welt voll alltäglichem Leben, Liebe und Lachen, das immer überlebt.

Jetzt liegt also ein neues Album vor für die, die mehr erwarten als die
üblichen „moon in july“ und „Whoa, yeah, baby, baby, baby“ Wiederholungen. Nehmen Sie sich Zeit zum Zuhören, tauchen Sie in die Stimmungen ein, lassen Sie die Texte wirken. Es wird Ihnen gefallen. Paul Cowlans Songs sind nicht immer leicht süffig und haben wenig Ohrwurm-charakter, aber unheimlichen Tiefgang. Poesie und Lyrik verpackt in feine, weitgehend akustische Arrangements, für welche eine Auswahl hervorragender und renommierter Gastmusiker mit dabei waren! Ein paar persönliche Worte von Paul Cowlan zu den einzelnen Songs:

1) Underground
Eine von Shakespeares Figuren spricht von der Vergeblichkeit, die Sonne in
Eis zu verwandeln, indem man ihr mittels einer Pfauenfeder kalte Luft
zufächelt. Konfrontiert mit dem kalkulierten Boshaftigkeit multinationaler
Firmen, teile ich gelegentlich diese Gefühle. Alles, was du als Individuum
gegen sie tun kannst, ist aus der Reihe zu tanzen, dir deine Träume zu
erhalten und ihnen so wenig von deinem Geld zu geben wie möglich.

2) Piece-Work
Das Wortspiel ist beabsichtigt, die Beteiligten existieren. Nur Marys Name
ist geändert.

3) A ploy named Sue
Ich entschuldige mich bei Johnny Cash, dass ich einen seiner berühmtesten
Songtitel verfremdet habe, aber ich konnte nicht widerstehen. Der Song
beschreibt Verklagen (ständiger Rechtstreit) als Lebensstil.

4) In deep
Nach der Invasion Afghanistans 2002 wurde es schwierig, die eigene Naivität
jedweder Art aufrecht zu erhalten. „Doves of peace“ und „Dogs of War“ und all die andere törichte Propaganda. Ob es uns gefällt oder nicht, wir sind alle verstrickt (in deep).

5) They say
Es gibt immer jemanden, der dir erzählen will, wie du dein Leben leben
solltest, oft weil er selbst unsicher ist, wie er sein eigenes Leben leben

6) King Sun, Queen Moon
Dies ist eine alchemistische Liebesgeschichte, die in der Sonnenfinsternis
im August 1999 wurzelt. Ich beobachtete diese eindrückliche Vereinigung der
Gegensätze auf eine Lichtung im Inntal, süd-östlich von München bei klarem
Himmel und mit zahlreichen Mücken.

7) Strangers
Hinter dem vertrauten Gesicht jeden Freundes oder geliebten Menschens
verbirgt sich jemand, den du niemals kennen wirst. Aber wie Leonard Cohen
singt: „Sei unbesorgt. Es bist du, der der Fremde ist.“

8) Killers
Der ungewöhnlichste Song, den ich geschrieben habe. Worte und Titel kamen aus dem Nichts am 25 Juni 2001 und ich schrieb sie in mein Notizbuch, ohne sie wirklich zu verstehen. Eine Melodie, die ich vor Jahren geschrieben und vergessen hatte, kam wieder zum Vorschein und passte perfekt. Die Chords schrieben sich fast von alleine am 5. September. Drei Tage später war der 11. September.

9) Scorpio rising
Ich erhielte eine SMS von einer guten Freundin während ich mit diesen Song
känpfte und sie gab mir genau das Thema, das ich suchte. Ich verdanke ihr
schon einen Song auf meiner CD „Walking to the Moon“ (1995). Zehn Jahre
später kann ich glücklich feststellen, dass Miss B. ganz Miss B. geblieben

10) The word
Wäre es nicht wunderbar, ein magisches Wort zu haben, das die Kraft hat,
jedes Problem sofort zu lösen. Ich bin mir sicher, dass ich dieses Wort
geträumt habe, aber wir wissen, wie das ist mit Träumen. Wenn ich mich nur
erinnern könnte.....

11) What the blues is for
“What the blues is for? What the blues are for?” Bluesmusiker
interessieren sich wenig für gramatikalische Kleinigkeiten.

12) Last on the hill
Diese Song ist meiner Mutter gewidmet. Mit 89 Jahren schläft sie nicht
immer gut und wenn sie wach liegt, verbringt sie die Stunden oft damit, in
Gedanken geliebte Orte ihrer Kindheit in und um Littleover zu besuchen,
eine kleine Ortschaft in Derby. Unnötig zu sagen, dass all diese
ländlichen Plätze längst verschwunden sind unter Straßen und Wohnblocks.

13) Harley girl
Während ich im Herbst 2002 meine Anlage für einen Auftritt in Hasting
aufstellte, hörte ich Sally ihren Traum erzählen. Einmal Harley Girl, immer
Harley Girl. Ich nehme an, das Motorrad selbst ist unwichtig.

14)Women in love
Reine, unverdünnte Geschichte. Dies ist genau, was passierte. Ich schrieb
den Song für Gabrieles fünfzigsten Geburtstag und spielte ihn zum ersten
mal auf ihrem Fest auf einer wunderschönen Burg in der Thüringer Rhön im
Juni 2004. Zuerst dachte ich, der Song würde ein Gedicht. Und so war ich
etwas überrascht, als ein Blues herauskam. „C’est la vie!“ ... sagt man
und es zeigt, dass man nichts voraussagen kann.

15) In passing
Erinnerung, Bedauern, Rechtfertigung In L. P. Hartley berühmten Zitat heißt es: „Die Vergangenheit ist ein fremdes Land. Sie tun dort Dinge unterschiedlich.“

16)Ad Astra
Dies sind sehr alte Texte, geschrieben im Jahr 1974 als Teil einer längeren
Sequenz. Ihr Name war Madeline. Sie war Töpferin und fertigte mir eine
große griechische Amphore, die ich noch immer habe. Das Arrangement ist neu mit einem Zitat aus einem meiner früheren Songs „Making Waves“ („Walking to the moon“,1995)

This is Paul F. Cowlan's eighth album, the sixth issued by Brambus, and as
his fans have grown to expect, he's as individual as ever. It's vintage
Cowlan: sixteen tracks, encompassing social satire and political commentary.
An alchemical love story, a word with magical powers, memories and
introspections, the answer to that perennial question, "What is the blues
for?" and even a trip out into the stars. Of course, the satire is salted
with characteristic humour, and, typically, you can expect to be moved to
laughter one minute and perhaps tears the next. After thirty years in the
music business his touch is as sure as ever.

The title of the album is a line taken from track number seven, 'Strangers', and the theme of change, the turning of the wheel, the passing of time, is reflected everywhere, not least in the graphics. Paul is a romantic and a humorist, a lover of life and a dreamer of dreams, but he's also firmly rooted in the real world. As he himself writes in the introduction to the liner notes:

'I make no apologies for the predominantly political slant of the first eight tracks. In a sense all the songs centre on 'Killers', because although I wouldn't describe myself as a political animal it would have been difficult to live through September 11th 2001, and its persistent legacy, without echoes appearing in my music. The songs in the second half broaden out again into the world of life, love and laughter which, mercifully, always survives.'

Here, then, is another feast for those who want more than 'moon in June'
lyrics and 'Whoa, yeah, baby, baby, baby' refrains. Take time to listen to
this album, to experience the moods, to savour the lyrics. You'll be glad
you did.


One of Shakespeare's characters speaks of the futility of trying to turn
the sun to ice by fanning it with a peacock's feather. Sometimes I feel the
same when confronted by the calculating evil of certain multinational
companies. As an individual all you can do against them is fall out of
step, maintain your dreams, and give them as little of your money as

The pun is, of course, intentional, but all the actors are real. Only
Mary's name has been changed.

Apologies to Johnny Cash for mangling one of his most famous song titles,
but I couldn't resist it. This is litigation as a lifestyle.

After the invasion of Afghanistan in 2002 naïveté, of any kind, became less
easy to sustain. 'Doves of peace and dogs of war' and all the other fatuous
propaganda; like it or not, we're all 'in deep'.

There's always somebody ready to tell you how to run your life, often
because they're uncertain about how to run their own.

This is an alchemical love story, rooted in the solar eclipse of August
1999. I witnessed this impressive union of the opposites from a clearing in
the woods of the Inntal, south-east of Munich, where the sky was clear and
the mosquitoes were voracious.

Behind the familiar face of every friend or lover lives someone you'll
never know. But as Leonard Cohen sings, 'Do not be afraid. It's you my
love, it's you, who are the stranger.'

The strangest song I've ever written. The words and title came out of the
blue on June 25th 2001 and were entered into my notebook without full
comprehension. A tune I'd written, and forgotten, years before suddenly re-surfaced on August 25th, and fitted the lyrics perfectly. The chords
virtually wrote themselves on September 5th. Six days later it was
September 11th.

An SMS from a very dear friend, which arrived while I was struggling to pin
this song down, gave me exactly the theme I needed. She already has one
song to her credit, which can be found on my 'Walking to the Moon' album
(1995). Ten years later, I'm happy to report that Miss B. is still very
much Miss B.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to possess a magic word which had the power of
solving any problem, instantly? I'm sure I dreamed this word one night, but
you know how it is with dreams. Now, if only I could remember .....

'What the Blues is for'? 'What the Blues are for'? Blues players have never
been noted for their close attention to grammatical niceties.

This is lovingly dedicated to my Mum. At 89 she doesn't always sleep well
and, lying awake, often passes the dark hours by revisiting much-loved
haunts of her childhood, in and around the village of Littleover, near
Derby. Needless to say, all these rural scenes have since disappeared under
roads and housing developments.

I overheard Sally's dreams in the autumn of 2002, while setting up for a
gig in Hastings. Once a Harley Girl, always a Harley Girl; I suspect the
motorbike itself is irrelevant.

Pure, unadulterated history. This is exactly how it happened. The song was
written for Gabriele's fiftieth birthday, and was first performed at her
party in a wonderful old castle in the Thüringer Rhön in June 2004. At
first I thought it was going to be a poem. So I was a little surprised when
it turned into a mutant Blues. 'C’est la vie!' said the old folks, 'It goes
to show you never can tell.'

Memories, regrets, justifications. In L. P. Hartley’s famous phrase. 'The past
is a foreign country. They do things differently there.''

These are very old lyrics, written in 1974 as part of a longer sequence.
The woman's name was Madeline. She was a potter, and she made me a large
Greek-style amphora, which I still have. The arrangement is new, with a
spacey quotation from an earlier song of mine 'Making Waves'. (From
'Walking to the Moon' (1995).

Paul F. Cowlan ist ein hervorragender Songschreiber und Entertainer, der mit seinen unzähligen Konzerten auf dem ganzen Kontinent schon längst Kultstatus erreicht hat. Sein nunmehr bereits fünftes CD-Werk für Brambus bringt wieder intensive Songs mit vielseitigen Arrangements. Keine süffigen Hitmelodien, sondern engagiertes und kreatives Songschreiben bietet der auch als Gitarrist gut ausgewiesene Engländer seinem Publikum hier an, und zu seinen Anhängern gehören auch etliche Songwriter, wie etwa Andrew Harvey, der in den Liner-Notes schreibt: "Songs have become background; background to our shopping, background to our movies, background to our travel, background to every aspect of our daily lives. But in the midst of all this meaningless noise a few lone voices still sing lyrics to make us pause, think, smile and say thank you.. Paul Cowlan is as individual a writer as you could wish to find. In the true troubadour tradition he drives around Europe carrying his songs to those who will listen. He is a foreground person, and his cd's sit on my shelf with all the other foreground writers. This is a welcome addition to a fine body of work."

Paul F. Cowlan is an excellent song-writer, storyteller and entertainer, who has build a strong reputation with uncountable concerts all over the continent. This is all-ready his 5th CD for Brambus and brings again a great collection of songs with wide musical arrangements. There are no easy going hitsongs on the album, but it is full of intense and creative songwriting and it also shows Paul great guitarwork. Paul Cowlan not only finds a stunning audience at his concerts, he has also numberous songwriters, who admire his work, such as Harvey Andrews, who wrote in the liner-notes: "Songs have become background; back-ground to our shopping, background to our movies, background to our travel, back-ground to every aspect of our daily lives. But in the midst of all this meaningless noise a few lone voices still sing lyrics to make us pause, think, smile and say thank you. Paul Cowlan is as individual a writer as you could wish to find. In the true troubaour tradition he drives around Europe carrying his songs to those who will listen. He is a foreground person, and his cd's sit on my shelf with all the other foreground writers. This is a welcome addition to a fine body of work."

Harvey Andrews

If you think that singer/songwriters are all the same then you haven't heard Paul Cowlan yet! This man may be serious but he certainly isn't solemn, and he'll not only make your heart ache occasionally, but your sides as well! One German magazine described him as " outstanding musician, an amusing entertainer, a witty comedian, a committed critic of the times, and a thoughtful romantic. " Which is a pretty accurate summary.

Anne Marcordes of 'Folk Michel' writes: "My personal discovery of the festival: the English songwriter and guitarist Paul F Cowlan, whose individual style differs in a very positive way from that of the usual songwriter cliches. The wide range of his thematic spectrum is also unusual, serious, thoughtful numbers, with personal or political content, alternate with songs characterised by engagingly eccentric humour . . . Mr Cowlan also demonstrates that he is no mere run-of-the-mill guitarist, with his extremelyoriginal Blues, Rap and Disco parodies."

His songs range from sensitive ballads and punchy social comment to satire and sheer, outrageous nonsense; all delivered with an irresistible blend of musicianship and humour. "Armed with harmonica, guitar, humour, feeling, talent, and a beautiful, clear voice, Cowlan walks on stage and compels the audience to listen."

It isn't Folk, it isn't Blues, it isn't Country, though all have left their mark on his style. 'Acoustic Rock' is what he calls it himself; but though it's not easy to classify it's easy to like. Inventive contemporary songwriting with a character all its own, drawing much of its inspiration from Paul's extensive travels: Europe, Scandinavia, The Caribbean, Southeast Asia, The USA, his horizons are always changing, and the songs reflect this. Living fables, still warm with the dust of the road.