After many years playing bass in an assortment of bands, bookstore manager Paul Armfield eventually sat down with Joan Baez’s guitarist Adam Kirk and wrote and recorded a handful of songs. These demos came to the attention of a new label who comissioned an album.
With his collaborator and friend now in the States Paul turned to other friends to make up a scratch band- the remarkable Four Good Reasons who, along with producer Ian Caple (Tricky, Stina Nordenson, Jan Tiersenn) and arranger Dickon Hinchliffe (Tindersticks) created the album Songs Without Words. One of the tracks on the album- Paul’s self translated interpretation of a lesser know Jacques Brel song Why Should It Be That A Man Gets Bored, made it onto Barklay’s Brel compilation where it sat very comfortably alongside the likes of Bowie, Scott Walker, Nina Simone et al.
Those who got to see Paul live during this period, whether as a duo supporting Lambchop, solo with the Go-Betweens or with all four of the Good Reasons witnessed performances of intense emotions, wringing tears of laughter, joy and sadness from the audience on a nightly basis. After witnessing their performance at the Glastonbury festival James Delingpole raved in the Sunday Telegraph of his ‘star find’.
Paul’s third album ‘Blood, Fish and Bone’ was recorded live over only four days, each of those four days were separated by six month intervals, scheduled around the visits of Adam Kirk from his new home in San Francisco.
Paul and Adam were joined by JC Grimshaw and drummer Rupert Brown in Rupert’s mostly valve studio. Unrehearsed, spontaneous, and full of the creaks and rumbles of furniture and outside traffic, the performances are also fairly hushed, partly as a response to the songs but also as a consideration to the terrible case of tinitus from which Rupert was suffering.
More recently Paul has taken to writing songs to order,bespoke songs for members of the audience as the in house laureate at Larmer Tree Festival, a song about skateboarding in Ventnor to raise money for a local skate-park, and contributing a song ‘Flagbearers’ to the second Folk Against Fascism album.
In 2009 to celebrate the bicentenary of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s birth Paul put some of the former poet Laureates poems to music and performed them at Tennyson’s Island home Farringford. An album of these songs is finally due for release in the autumn of 2011.
As a sideline Paul also performs double bass duties in gypsy jazz trio Tzigane and 1930s jazz and hula outfit The Gramophone Party.