Seth Paul
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Seth Paul

Band Rock Singer/Songwriter


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The best kept secret in music


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Stepping Away (released 2006)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Unassuming may just be the best way to describe Seattle based singer/songwriter Seth Paul. Confident? Perhaps. Driven? Absolutely. But unlike many other musicians who fall under the singer/songwriter umbrella, Paul is reserved, deliberate and modest. Nowhere is this clearer then on his debut album, Stepping Away.

For Seth, it seems as if life had pointed him in this direction early on. Raised by a philosopher/artist mother in the shadow of an absent, albeit brilliant, pianist father, music was a part of his life for as long as he can remember. Raised on everything from Bob Dylan to Miles Davis, Seth absorbed what he describes as "an intellectual music background." By 16 he had devoted himself to the guitar and by 17, with the help of a drum machine and 4-track; he was composing and recording his own songs.

"From the time I started playing guitar I was writing my own material," he recalls, "I know a lot of people start off by learning other artist's songs but that didn't work for me. I would start to learn a song and get bored; instead I would work on my own arrangements. I eventually found that I could write a song more quickly than I could learn one." He pauses, chuckling, "To this day I only know a handful of covers."

It seemed only a matter of time once Seth abandoned his hometown of Spokane for Seattle that he would find the correct set of circumstances that would allow him to flourish. While Seth had played in several bands throughout Seattle, meeting and working with long-time producer Steve Adamek (The Believers, Left Hand Smoke) marked the beginning of his solo career.

Their collaboration birthed Seth's first album, Stepping Away, a melody driven rock record that showcases the prodigious pop sensibilities of both Seth and Adamek. The tracks on the album are highlighted by upbeat arrangements that at first mask the darker stories told by the lyrics. This push and pull creates an underlying tension in the songs, a skill mastered by artists such as Elliott Smith, which Seth and Adamek manage to artfully employ all the while making it their own.

"At first we were a little combative," confesses Seth, "each one thinking we knew what was best for the song. But after we learned each other's methods we ended up on the same wavelength and were able to balance one-another. I think it is from this balance that truly interesting music emerges."

This common ground and mutual respect began to shape the album. Driven by perfection and substance, it's obvious that Seth has a great respect for music as a whole, and all the myriad forms that it takes. Stepping Away showcases this splendidly. The album's jangly electric guitars and punchy acoustics combine with a big rhythm section to create a decidedly old school British sound. The album has been compared to British bands like Snow Patrol and classic American bands such as Big Star.

Seth underscores the importance of creating an album, "the way it used to be done", stressing a focus on making it "less commercial, and more about the music." Ironically, in doing so, he created an extremely commercial album. By stepping away from current musical convention and emphasizing the things that made the music from his youth so great, Seth hit upon the exact right balance, crafting an album that for all of its melodies and hooks, is honest, genuine, and dare we say... unassuming.