Paul Delph - "A God That Can Dance"

click here to purchase this CD

click here for lyrics

 Paul Delph:  A God That Can Dance  =   Rating:  A++

A true Celebration of Life. This is a  powerful, deeply moving CD that will have you singing, smiling and dancing; it will also bring tears to your eyes, and cherishment to your heart.

"A God That Can Dance" is a wonderful, unique CD bridging a wide range of styles, textures and emotions. Listening to this CD is like walking through a huge tapestry, a sonic landscape that covers the entire range of human experience.

There are songs  that are a dancing celebration of life, full of joy and often ecstatic. Other songs are hard rocking, intensely angry, questioning, seeking answers to the painful, horrific events of the human experience. There are songs expressing the deepest feelings of love, gratitude and the cherishment of life. Moments that are mystical, pensive, etheric, timeless. There are moments that are deeply touching and many of great beauty. Overall, the message is a positive, uplifting hymn of hope and a deep belief in Immortality.

Written and recorded when Paul knew he was dying of AIDS; the lyrics are profound, the music is nothing short of genius, the resulting feeling is one of hope, faith, love and the cherishment of a life where Paul could make such music for a God that can dance. 

The music employs a wide range of styles: rock, blues, pop, Classical, New Age, gospel (generally an early 90's sound).  The CD starts out expressing anger at God, but ends up as a hymn to the spirit. The music is a wonderful accomplishment and a great tribute to Paul's life. Paul's heart and soul sings through every song and we are fortunate to have his gift of this life-affirming music.    The lyrics are as exceptional as the music; they are creative, intelligent and often truly poetic.

The musicians are really exceptional. The drumming lively and creative, the guitar playing is masterful and very musical. Most songs were co-written with Paul Marcus, and one is a cover of Jimmy Spheeris' "Eternity Spin".  It's hard to believe that a major record company has not published this CD, and that some of these songs haven't been covered by other singers.

I recommend that you listen to the songs in an order different than that published on the CD.

1. The main point in the reordering >>>> The emotional climax of the CD is certainly "Mama Don't Cry". That should be the determining feature for the structure of the entire CD song order (in my opinion). It occurs much too early (3rd) on the CD, so it must be moved back. It also is naturally grouped with two other songs "Sombadine" (nothing else could follow "Mama Don't Cry") and the Kyrie completes the section in a emotionally bound grouping.

2. Another reason: The  2nd track (original order), opens with sort of a "novelty" sound, and though a good song, I find that it disrupts the establishment of Paul's sound/style. I think the listener needs to hear more of Paul's music before that strong a variation; so it needs to be delayed, moved further back. At that point it's a nice change (and the Gospel section leads well into "Mama Don't Cry").

3. The last songs (11-14) are perfect in placement and order; so the set of songs mentioned in #1 can only be placed before (#11) them in the re-ordering.
From the heaviness and depth of these songs (3,4,9),  "My Heaven" then provides a nice transition to the great rocking "A God That Can Dance"; the last two lead to the poetry of Paul's voice as a quiet closing of the experience.

4. For a brighter, faster launch,  you can switch my #2 and #3, putting a faster song in the #2 position.

5. Another note: The bass balance is mixed too high on Breath of Life covering much of the music; at least once, try turning the bass down to minimum on this song (only) and you will hear much more in the arrangement.

((I've added some listening notes , very rough now, they will be revised and finished soon))

  (Original Order) Song Title Rating CD Track
Recommended Listening Order
(click on the title for my listening notes)
Alternative Order
(and notes)
New Order
1  Mad at God +9 1 Mad at God   1
2 The Good Days are Better (But the Bad Days are Worse) +10 6 More Than Ever 5 Stumbling in the Dark 2
3 Mamma Don't Cry +10 5 Stumbling in the Dark 6 More Than Ever 3
4 Sombadine + 7  Let Yourself Go   4
5 Stumbling in the Dark + 9 8 I'm Gonna Save My Dreams Until Tomorrow   5
6 More Than Ever  +10 10 Eternity Spin   6
7 Let Yourself Go +10 2 The Good Days are Better (But the Bad Days are Worse)   7
8 I'm Gonna Save My Dreams Until Tomorrow +10 3 Mamma Don't Cry   8
9 Kyrie +9 4 Sombadine   9
10 Eternity Spin +10 9 Kyrie   10
11 My Heaven  +100 11 My Heaven   11
12 A God That Can Dance +10 12 A God That Can Dance   12
13 Breath of Life + 8 13 Breath of Life turn bass down to hear this more clearly 13
14 The Dance at the End of Time + 14 The Dance at the End of Time   14

ORIGINAL TRACK#========= listening notes with songs in the recommended listening order==========New ORDER #===

1. ------ "Mad at God" ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  1

Opens with a strong, angry rocker: Questioning, WHY to God.

(A) "All the bells..."   A (mostly) a cappella opening

(B) "I'm mad at God, for not shouting it out, Time is Slipping Away")

(A) Lyrics about the death of Jimmie Spheeris

(C) A new building, rising section (chorus with Paul soaring above) , rises to a great sax solo
serves almost as a "Kyrie elision"    .. "breathe in us, give to use, bring to us, hope for us, come to us, feel, lift , heal"

(A) "Wouldn't it make for sense, for heaven to be contained in us all"

(B) "I'm mad a God"  -- builds to a climax , drumming, singing, sax.

6.------ "More Than Ever" -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------   2
This is a song of great beauty and directness, not much needs to be said about it.

(A) "walking like the dead.."   (great drumming, stormy)

(B) "More than ever.."    
--- Here the sun shines through, (rhythmically structured)
A wonderful melody, and swing and voice duet (reminiscent of U2)

The ending is ..... just beautiful, all one can do is cherish it as it fades.

5. ------ "Stumbling in the Dark" ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3

Opening:: A clear, delicate synthesizer sequence (arpegiation)  and the delicate phrase " you can play all night in the hills"
suddenly gives way to drums, guitar in a driving swinging rhythm...

A "Stand back.. "  - great singing, sax

B "It's not what you think.."  the driving strumming guitar over the rising bass

THEN A great change of pace. (one of Paul's signature traits)

(C) "you can pray all day....."

returns to the prime idea
(A) "Stand back"

B "It's not what you think.."  the driving strumming guitar over the rising bass   again

(C) "you can pray all day....."
Dancing drums,  Paul's voice , soaring ..

(B) "you can pray all day....."
extended this time .. for the coda

(B CODA) stronger version of B for the coda.

7. ------- "Let Yourself Go" ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------   4

This song also is immediately  striking,

Intro: Opening with an attractive sound  Paul's voice over the acoustic guitar. ("Defend your right...")

A keyboard phrase leads to the melody:

(A) A syncopated lead melody over the guitar chords, totally captivating..

Then the beautiful (signature Paul tune)
(B) "Defend your right to dream.."
A beautiful rising melody ... Paul's admonition ... "Let yourself go!"

Keyboard phrase link back to
(A) "it's so hard to say goodbye"  .... so touching.. who could resist this music , the feeling.
(A) "floating... reaching"

(B) "Defend.. " (with added background vocals) even more beautiful

(C extended)  "I'll lift you up..."
-- a great rising, soaring lifting of mood ..  lifts us,  ... Paul is offering us hope, support ... encourage....

descending  ... "letting go"
(A) instrumental section
(B) Rising voice again., is so touching, reassuring... yet sad
Keyboard phrase as closing and cadence... 

This is a wonderful song, seems so simple, but such simplicity that is so beautiful and rewarding on each hearing is certainly the expression of genius.

One of the great songs every written. It's Paul's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters".

It leads perfectly in the next swinging tune.

8.------ "I'm Gonna Save My Dreams Until Tomorrow" ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5
A great, swinging, dancing reggae tune with a party at the end (we can hear the joy and the fun that Paul and his musicians are having)

(Intro) bouncing reggae rhythm
(A) "When there's thunder and lightning.."
-- interesting guitar background. straighter rhythm..

(B) "I'm gonna save my dreams.."
Now the "reggae" returns to great effect: Irresistibly bouncy, truly dancing reggae rhythm, ... joy

builds to a swinging, dancing, jumping celebration,
(if you're not dancing to this  have someone check your pulse)

10.-------- "Eternity Spin" -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------   6
Written by Jimmy Spheeris

Introduction: Opens with a middle-eastern sound (with a synthesizer sound of an "airy" ethnic flute)
, then the drumming enters and in concert  it wouldn't be surprising to see the beautiful ladies dancing onto the stage

Then the electric guitar enters and builds a gradual crescendo of sound and emotion

Lyrics about knowing the same souls through many lifetimes in many different roles.

... this is a great arrangement and a powerful song.

Paul's singing is amazing.. strong

2. ------ "The Good Days Are Better (But the Bad Days Are Worse)" -----------------------------------------------------  7
Opens with Paul's bluesy .. "down at the last chance mission.." 

(A) Instrumental  rocking section leads to the first melody.... "Nothing is better than when we are together"..

(B) "The Good Days.."   ... descending, syncopated line (reminds me slightly of "Good Day Sunshine")

(A) and (B)

(C) new section!  Praising, Gospel chorus..    ascending guitar lifts into the next section

(A) and (B) and Paul closes with a bluesy phrase.

=============================== 3 Song Group==============================================================

3. ------ "Mama Don't Cry" ---------------------------------------------------------------+++++++++++++++++++++++    8

A great, deeply moving song, beautiful and unbearably sad. Paul sings to his parents, with loving concern, thanking them, encouraging them.
"Time can not erase..... Love"

Opens with the single word "Mama" spoken by Paul and then the music..

(Introduction) the introduction with a wordless woman's vocal, piano chords, drums (tablas), bass) setting the mood.
The intro previews the shape of the melody .. (the Into is repeated)

(A) An arch-like melody.  "Mama don't cry, I've got to sing my song"   Paul sings solo over a piano figure doubling his voice with the piano (tables) ... 2 phrases and then builds,

(B) reaches a beautiful rising ("just move on") and then descending  melody, with rising Perfect 4th  ("if it takes too much, if it takes too long")   that sequences down 

(A) "Daddy don't"    repeats with some variation the opening...

(B) "as I reach back into the wind.." .. beautiful singing of this beautiful sorrowful melody

(C) Now there's a powerful extended section, ("Mama don't cry") with an ascending stepwise melody..   ..sustained voice (sustained strings (keyboard))
 rising turn with the (B) melody ... pressing forward beginning with "mama don't cry, sing to the stars.... "  as it builds  the expression and emotion grows
and reaches an intensely moving climax ("as the last light dies") and then descends into the concluding phrase "let me dry your eyes... your son is rising inside."

(Introduction music) repeat of the opening introduction, extended, intense

(D) ("Can I only bring you sorrow") leads to a tremendous emotional peak, carried in Paul's voice ("must she suffer my existence... until I die")

(A) "Love takes strength.."

(B) "In another place, we'll come face to face"

The song, the mood, the melody and the text find a beautiful closing.... in knowing that love lasts forever.. "time can never erase what we have" ...

(Epilogue:) quietly the woman's voice repeats the introduction phrases softly .. lingering, holding the mood and fading away,
and a cello lines enters to for the final cadence.

4. ------"Sombadine" --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    9

A brief (2 minute) epilogue to the previous song, this instrumental interlude (saxophone ensemble) is the only music that could follow "Mama Don't Cry.."

.. based on a simple 4 note rising figure .. repeated, sequenced, mirrored.  .. it provides a moment to reflect the previous song. The Kyrie must be next.

9.------------- "Kyrie" --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------     10
Kyrie Eleison  based on the Machaut Mass (Machaut was Medieval composer, ca. 1300-1377)

Kyrie Eleison is Latin for 'Lord have mercy on us'.  A beautiful plaintive prayer. Effectively set  (and works here to conclude this section )


After the intensity of the previous set.. I'm not ready to rock, "My Heaven" provides the perfect , gentle transition back to hope...
beginning with a quiet hymn, it evolves into a pulsing, gently rocking motion... and we find real beauty in this moment of beautiful/feeling music.

11.------- "My Heaven" ----------------------------------------------------+++++++++++++++++++++++++         11
As beautiful a song as any ever written.

Begins as a hymn,

(A) The melody is a perfect arch form,  ("Oh, infant child with your eyes open so wide.. tell me what you see")

(B) "my heaven"  (harp, voices, organ-like keyboard, heavenly)

(A) and (B) repeat then
("all the songs a soul can sing")
... pulsing bass and drums lead into a swing and a moment of forward motion..
then the cadence leads back ("with tears in my eyes")

(A) to a quiet, wonderful orchestration and a beautiful full chorus version of the opening melody  ("Oh Holy Night, Waiting the morning's light..")

closing.. so beautiful.....  peaceful.

12.------"A God That Can Dance"--------------------------------------++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   12

A Great , great, great tune.  Rocking, dancing. Reminds us, life is about the dance. (I would love to see a video of Paul singing this).

(A) Introduction . ... then "Heaven Know's" transition leads to the great hook

(B) "I believe, I can't believe.."   .. Great

(A) "Hey, are you real" . ... then "Heaven Know's" transition again leads to

(B) "I believe, I can't believe.."   ..

(C)  New brilliant section "There is no better place.." driving...
That has a great climax that a tribute/reference to the orchestral crescendo in the Beatle's Sgt. Pepper Album ("A Day in the Life")
that is very effective... (drumming is great, bass, voices and the swirling orchestra crescendo is perfect)
(stop, Paul's solo "I believe."....which then returns directly the chorus

(B) "I believe, I can't believe.."   .. Then continues on to a great building, extended, dancing climax.  Uplifting.

13.------ "Breath of Life" ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------      13

An Ethereal, New Age song.

Beautiful, timeless melodies floating around the recording (radio?) of a lady minister's admonition to "Breath in..... ... let go, let God.."

(I think this would benefit greatly from a remix , the bass (and sometimes the "radio talk") is too far forward, a remix could balance it better,
which would bring out the beautiful delicate music that is partially hidden behind it, many details are covered in the present mix. IF YOU TURN the BASS balnce down to the minimum, you'll hear the rest of the sounds much better)

Still a nice song.

14.------ "The Dance At the End of Time" -------------------------------------------------------------------------------  14
A poetic conclusion. (Would also be nice to have a remix to take the background music down a step behind Paul's reading)

This is music to cherish, that will awaken, that should remind us to live life fully in this moment;  how fortunate we are to be able to have this CD.


Paul's career took off when I connected him with (my late friend) Dwight Tindle and Peter Banks.

In 1978, Paul Delph joined the band Empire, here is some history on that group (mostly provided by Dwight)

CLICK on this link to see more::::   Tribute to Dwight Tindle page.