Review: Patrick Campbell-Lyons, "The 13 Dalis" (GRA)


Where to start about this special reblossoming?

Well . . . Patrick Campbell-Lyons is a charming Irishman who has traveled the world. He was the singer of a London-based psychedelic art-rock band called Nirvana, a staple of Chris Blackwell's Island Records in the late 1960s. I found out about Patrick in 1992, when he and his Nirvana songwriting partner, the Greek-born multi-instrumentalist Alex Spyropoulos, approached my wife about a legal matter. Since Patrick, always on the move, often visits L.A., we've seen him regularly since then. I edited his poetic, amusing and historically valuable memoir, "Psychedelic Days," which was published last year. Patrick has continued to make and write music all the while, including an album of Irish folk tunes. He has maintained his collaborations with Alex, and in 2010 had the opportunity to craft this record, "The 13 Dalis."

It's a lovely, lively slice of reflective rock, exactly the kind of natural development you'd expect from a talented veteran who has kept his eyes, ears and heart open. Patrick's voice, a sensitive whisper, seems to attempt hardly more than respiration while conveying attractive, memorable melodies and gentle observations about love, urban indifference or a lost address book. His songs are greatly enhanced by a wonderfully consistent, languid mood (embodied in Alex Chappelow's ever-floating steel guitar) and a rich yet transparent soundscape (mostly under Patrick's spacious production and the detailed engineering of Duncan Inglis).

Nirvana fans will be especially drawn to "Flowers for Friday" and "All I Do Is For You," both co-written with Spyropoulos and decorated with familiar '60s touches -- surreal vocal infusions and Byrdsy lysergic guitar. Patrick also tends the flower bed with appropriate covers of Tim Hardin, Arthur Lee and Richard Thompson; Thompson's "Galway to Graceland," about a woman who forsakes Ireland to minister Elvis Presley's memory, stands as one of the highlights.

Still, we're looking mainly through Patrick's tinted glasses. His softly insistent "Sunset City" rocks like a boat and shimmers with bells; his "Nothing Changes or Does It" makes a sonic statement with its unusual vocal arrangement (female call-and-response, children's chorus); his "Sad Song" carries the feeling of the traditional community music-hall productions that had such an influence on the Beatles and the Kinks. It all comes off with proficiency and ease. Congratulations, Patrick!

Of course, I shouldn't be surprised. Sometimes we get used to our friends' old stories, and forget that they're living new ones all the time.

Patrick Campbell-Lyons' CD "The 13 Dalis" and his book "Psychedelic Days" can be procured at, on and other places.