Lonely Tourist
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Lonely Tourist

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"Only The Lonely - Jan 2011"

Glasgow-hailing songwriter Paul Tierney’s played in open mic dens, church halls, bedrooms – but he won’t be playing ‘Ace of Spades’ anywhere soon. What’s Scotland’s loss is Bristol’s gain, discovers Julian Owen.

“First time I played at the Bedminster open mic it was really empty but there was a hammered guy sitting in the corner. I just knew it was going to be trouble,” recalls Paul Tierney. “He shuffled over and kept repeating ‘I used to work on Avonmouth docks, play ‘Ace of Spades’,’ and threw five pounds at me like I’m a fucking lap dancer.” He smiles broadly. “It was a good laugh, getting some banter.”

Until two years ago, living in his native Glasgow, he’d seen but a single open mic night, much less played one. That was back in bandmate days, as a member of ace, lightly countrified popsters Odeon Beatclub. Back before a move to Bristol a couple of years ago to be nearer his girlfriend (“A boring reason, unfortunately. I’d like to say I was on the run or something”), and a solo career under the Lonely Tourist moniker. As the docker conversation hints, he’s perfectly suited to a ‘have guitar, will play’ environment (“Will play almost anywhere... just ask”), with a naturally room-filling voice and tuneage that sounds as though it comes from somewhere where it’s had to demand to be heard. “Having seen a million acoustic acts,” he explains, “you play upbeat stuff to try and draw folks’ attention without playing violin on a high wire.”

With fine songwriting, for example. Lead track and first single from imminent debut album, ‘Sir, I Am A Good Man’, is the Steve Lamacq-endorsed ‘Patron Saint Procrastinate’. It begins with guitar strum and quiet observation: “I could write my own headstone or obituary/‘Well, here lies Paul, he wrote some pretty bad poetry/He put it all to music but he was far too afraid to use it/We place these flowers here for who he wasn’t’”. Soon, the chorusing has turned to rousing mantra, guitar joined by swelling organ and tattoo drums. Come the close, we’re into Elbow-rivalling, life-affirming anthemic chorusing: “Today has got to be the day I do the things I always say”.

Rock Desk fears that to say Paul is an everyman singer sounds like faint praise. It shouldn’t – we mean it as the most fulsome of compliments. It’s a rare thing indeed to hear a voice you so naturally empathise with: think the aural equivalent of Jimmy Stewart in ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, and then consider how many other film characters you so easily warm to. Very few, we’d warrant. The album vividly paints the performer’s life – from seeing peers’ success on the sardonic ‘Delighted’ (“It’s five parts luck to two parts talent”) to the admission that “A jukebox gets more money than me for standing singing songs” (‘Watch For The Sharks’). “I’m a man things just happen to,” he sings on the title track, as lilting pedal steel tucks in beneath ‘Personal Jesus’-recalling riff

And there’s the strength – this is no solo acoustic strumalong, but finely textured and fully band-backed. Paul finished recording the album in Glasgow in November “with a mate [Jim Lang] who works at Radio City Studios. We managed to borrow a band, some guys from Attic Lights.” Nice borrowing, sir: “Scottish rock’s evergreen love affair with The Beach Boys, The Byrds and Big Star begins a fertile new chapter with Attic Lights... a hugely infectious debut,” quoth Uncut. “The best bit was getting an email saying ‘Francis Macdonald is the manager of Teenage Fanclub, and he’s gonna do some backing singing on one of your tunes as well’. I don’t know if he even knows he’s on it!”

You’ve clearly got that Glaswegian gift for melody, notes Venue. The Fannies, Postcard Records roster, that kind of thing. And something of the lovely wordiness of Arab Strap. “Aye, theirs is proper poetry in its own wee way, never given the credit. My old band supported them a couple of times. I took the Arab Strap picture out of their first album and put it on my wall, so getting to gig with a band that I absolutely love was one of those moments.”

An influence? “I love their music, but I don’t know if it is.” Sorry, that’s Rock Desk being a typical southerner: Glaswegian accent, ergo Arab Strap. Turns out we’re not alone in our stereotyping. “For all I love them, no matter what I’ll ever do musically – being Scottish with an acoustic guitar – at one in three gigs somebody will shout ‘Proclaimers!’ at me. I do actually like them, they’re underrated, proper songwriters.”

Happily, that full band sound will be in place for the album launch, Paul having teamed up with the Kick Inside to supply backing. Just another step alongside a burgeoning, enthusiastically varied Bristol assimilation. “I played in a park in Totterdown in a sculpture, in Rachael Dadd’s bedroom as part of an arts trail thing, church halls, pubs. Some of them are magic, some awful. There’s just a million places to play, it’s been great.”

- Venue Magazine


Single - Patron Saint Procrastinate - July 2010
Album - Sir I Am A Good Man - Jan 2011

Received plays on BBC Radio2 (lamacq), 6music, BBC Introducing (sessions also) and local and internet radio.



Loudon Wainwright meets Arab Strap.

Lonely Tourist is a Bristol based Scot who has supported amongst others Pete Doherty, Malcolm Middleton, Admiral Fallow.

Listen to the Bandcamp site for the full Lonely Tourist album (which received some excellent reviews).