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Album of the Week: Thunderhead by Paul Spring

A painting of a child playing Irish flute in a meadow. There are sheep and skulls on the ground near them. There are thunderclouds and a lightning bolt in the sky.
Sofia Heymans
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Art for Paul Spring's 'Thunderhead' album.

A lot has happened since St Cloud's Paul Spring last released a solo album of original songs, 2019's Neptune. His folk/soul group Holy Hive with Homer Steinweiss (a key figure in the New York City retro-soul movement), released two albums in 2020 and 2021. An in-demand studio musician, he worked with artists like Lady Wray, El Michels Affair, and Kenny Beats. Along with Steinweiss, he helped engineer on Fleet Foxes 2020 Shore album, and even appeared on SNL when Fleet Foxes sang backup for Post Malone.

Despite all these collaborations, Spring's new album Thunderhead, just like Neptune, is a solo album from start to finish. But where Neptune was largely voice and guitar, on Thunderhead Spring has added a wide array of synths, an 808 drum machine, and Irish flute. That mixture is showcased on tracks like "God Bite", "Thunderhead", and "Beetle on a Blade".

Even with the added electronic elements, Paul Spring's vocals and guitar are still prominent. In the time between Neptune and Thunderhead, he released an album of J.S. Bach adaptations for twelve string guitar, and the baroque influence is clear throughout the album. Both "Time Has Other Plans" and "Valley of Fire", two more standout tracks, are anchored by classical nylon string guitar.

Paul Spring's Thunderhead is an example of an artist with varied interests successfully melding different styles of music into something new. That's why it's our album of the week on Northern Community Radio.

Malachy started his radio career at a college radio station, where he played weird music in the middle of the night to possibly no one. On a good night maybe his parents were listening. Nonetheless, he was hooked on public radio and is still doing it today. He joined Northern Community Radio in 2022, where he gets to share his passion for local music as Producer of Centerstage Minnesota, an all Minnesota music show airing Fridays at 2pm.