Paul Durham acoustic show at Smith’s Olde Bar Jan. 10

Paul Durham, of alternative rock band Black Lab, made a stop in Atlanta on Jan. 10, playing an intimate acoustic show at Smith’s Olde Bar. Durham, who has breathed new life into his band with the release of latest album A Raven Has My Heart, greeted his fans as if they were old friends before taking the stage with only his guitar and voice.

Durham began the set with “Tomorrow,” a song, fittingly, from the acoustic album Unplugged. The small room was filled with his commanding and haunting vocals, despite the inevitable noise from the band playing above him. But Durham’s fans only had eyes (and ears) for him, their cheers and screams effectively drowning out the noise as Durham continued with “Wash It Away,” Black Lab’s first radio hit from 1997’s Your Body Above Me.

Durham took a moment to tell the audience that the night’s performance was dedicated to the loss of a loved one, and that most of the songs he would be playing were originally written for her, before beginning the stunningly beautiful “Love to Love You,” from 2010’s Two Strangers. “Time Ago,” “Ghost In Your Mind,” and “Fall (Shadows and Blinds)” continued the set. One look around the room was proof of the raw emotion Durham is able to achieve in his music, that emotion mirrored on many faces in the crowd.

Though A Raven Has My Heart is a highly electronic album, Durham was able to reinvent several songs acoustically such as “Unfamiliar Sky,” “Gravity,” and “Further,” before bringing it back to 2007’s Passion Leaves A Trace, with “This Night” and “Mine Again.”

Durham left his devoted fans wanting more and he’d hardly stepped from the stage before the crowd coaxed him back out for an encore. “Circus Lights,” from 2005’s See The Sun, seemed to be the perfect choice, with everyone in the room singing back every word.

How I got into THAT band: Black Lab – review of ‘Raven’

I was actually looking for a song by a different band back in 2000 when I stumbled on “Wash It Away.” I knew that I had heard that song somewhere before so I kept digging and discovered that it had indeed been a hit for the band back in 1997. I picked up the album with that song, Your Body Above Me, and could not stop listening.

Paul Durham’s voice is truly something to behold; it’s raw and emotional, yet somehow sexy and seductive at the same time.

He has a way of conveying emotion in his songs that is like no other. Black Lab is a band that I’ve relied on during some rough times in my life to get me through, just by listening to lyrics that are honest and real, uplifting and sorrowful and most importantly, relatable. When I listen to Black Lab, there’s an artist/listener connection that comes through that is so profound, it almost feels as if Durham is in the room singing only to me.
Black Lab also has one of the broadest ranges I’ve ever heard, from the ‘90s alternative sound of Your Body Above Me to the darker, moodier sound of Passion Leaves a Trace. The band even put out a techno album in 2007 called Technologie, and pulled it off effortlessly, proving that they can do anything they set their minds to and it will be amazing.
My favorite Black Lab album thus far is Unplugged, in which many of my favorite songs are stripped bare, leaving little more than Durham’s flawless voice. However, it may have some competition with the newest release, A Raven Has My Heart, which continues to blow me away every time I listen to it.
A Raven Has My Heart was completely funded by Black Lab fans through Kickstarter, and I am proud to be one of them. I’m also proud that one of my favorite bands in the world is finally getting more exposure, because they deserve it. Black Lab is usually the first band I recommend to friends and I like to tell them it is truly the best music they have never heard.

 

A Raven Has My Heart Review:

Black Lab is a band that has done its share of genre-swapping, from the ‘90s alternative sound of 1997’s Your Body Above Me—the album that spawned the hit “Wash It Away”—to an album of nothing but techno called, appropriately, Technologie and nearly everything in between. The band is not only musically versatile, but possesses a rare gift in that no matter which genre it chooses, it sounds like the right one.

With the new album, A Raven Has My Heart, Black Lab has embraced a dark, lush electronic sound, first hinted at with 2007’s Passion Leaves a Trace. A Raven Has My Heart starts off like a quiet storm with “Unfamiliar Sky,” setting the tone for the entire album with soft, almost ethereal synths and Paul Durham’s flawless vocals shining through.

“Gravity” is probably the best track here, with an expansive electronic sound that fills every sense, commanding that you stop and listen. Durham’s lyrics are heart-wrenching (“The pain just goes on and on…chained to your love”), and his raw, emotional delivery is breathtaking. This is the song that, upon first listen, literally made me stop in my tracks and think, “Wow, this is incredible.”

Another standout song is “Part of Me,” a swelling outpouring of emotion from Durham that speaks to the emotional depths of heartbreak and longing. “Further” is an anthem about staying strong and never giving up (“There ain’t nothing that can keep you from getting back up”), while “Radio Tonight” is the opposite end of the spectrum with a fun, borderline dance vibe.
With A Raven Has My Heart, Durham and co-founder Andy Ellis have ventured into a new territory for Black Lab and they wear it extremely well, proving that, at least for this listener, everything they touch will turn to gold. Hear free previews and order at http://blacklabworld.com/