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Things are looking up for Paul Cargnello
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 20 septembre 2012

Photo: Sarah Geledi

NDG singer-songwriter Paul Cargnello

With a chart-topping single, a critically acclaimed new album and a beautiful wife and boy at home, Paul Cargnello has every reason to be a happy man these days.

In addition to being a prolific singer-songwriter, Cargnello is also heavily involved in his own community, as the co-founder of NDG Arts Week. The festival, which promotes local art culture, celebrated its third anniversary last month.

On a crisp September afternoon at Shaïka café, the 33 year-old local musician sat down with Les Actualités to talk about music, politics, fatherhood and his beloved NDG neighborhood.

Cargnello just released his ninth studio album, his fourth one in French, entitled Papa Paul, which in many ways is the culmination of the year he took off to be with his infant Declan.

“The reason I took the year off is because I truly feel that men do not take this opportunity enough, still to this day. I was probably the only househusband at the park everyday. Secondly, I didn’t want my son to think back to his childhood and say my father was never there.”

Although there’s a chock-full of politically derived songs, as with any Cargnello record, Papa Paul shows a softer, more romantic side of the artist. The album’s closing song “Lonely Lasting Thing,” is a perfect example of this new, more personal songwriting in which he perfectly describes the woes of being on the road and away from his family.

At first people warned him that it would be an unproductive year for him musically, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. He found himself more motivated and inspired than ever. The result of which can be found on his latest diverse musical masterpiece, which is perhaps his most introspective album to date.

“I originally thought I was going to make it a themed album, really about my son and then I thought I don’t want to be cheesy. What I want to do is talk about things that are important to me and that I feel should be passed on.”

His message resonates in the album’s opening track, “All My Heroes,” which states that all your heroes will have flaws. Cargnello says it’s really the life lesson that he’d like to instill in the next generation. “There is nobody that’s going to be perfect and don’t let it lead you to cynicism. It will disappoint you, but you’re still allowed to respect those people and what they’ve done for society.”

The rest of the songs on the record rotate around Cargnello’s two main writing subjects: politics and the personal. “I don’t stray from those two things. There’s so much you can cover when talking about politics or when talking about the loves in your life.”

Although the majority of the songs on Papa Paul are in French, it is truly a multilingual album, with songs in English and Creole as well. “There’s a huge Haitian community here. The two songs that I picked are children’s songs. “Zozo mokeur” is a children’s song from New Orleans and “Pov’ peti’ mam’zelle Zizi” is a children’s song from Haiti. So it’s the different faces of creole in North America. I’m just trying to give a little nod (to the community).”

The next few months will be particularly busy for the native NDG resident. Besides promoting his latest release, Cargnello will also be touring intensively in Quebec, Canada and France. He’ll also be working on a new album as well as a new Skinny Bros project, a musical collaboration with his brother Chris.

[ Sarah Geledi ]

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