In this age of pretty packaging – with no compulsory meaningful content – ‘The Quiet Goliath’ by Aucklander Paul McGreal (aka Paul Mack) and its impossibly tacky yet menacing artwork is not only a breath of fresh air but a gust of dense wind. After the initial aesthetic shock, Storms Coming is everything the cover is not. There is a tenderness in this solid country-inspired song with beautifully harmonised backing vocals. McGreal’s warm voice, his sense of rhythm, his virtuosic slide guitar playing are familiar but unique. Love You So and Magdalene are of the same gentle and staunch country blues ilk. The second act of the opus begins with Christine and its electric feast. The Bowie-like – yes, Bowie-like! – backing vocals on Momma Love sound just like those of The Great David i.e. another instrument, another welcome oddity. (No cheap David & Goliath pun intended.) It Don’t Come Easy and Wham Slam Bam come straight out of Billy Gibbons’ Californian desert recurring wet dream. Special mention to the funny bleeped-out f-words in the Wham Slam Bam outro. Press releases and liner notes are often fraught in that they tend to express a fantasy rather than a reality. Not here – Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, and ZZ Top are acutely valid references. However, McGreal’s music is never derivative but always genuine. The only slight disappointment lies in the lack of an actual band supporting the songs. Even though it’s an impressive-sounding one-man endeavour, it could probably benefit from a human drummer. ‘Do not judge a book by its cover’ has never been so apt.