The concept of Paul Sanchez’ new album is that others—his friends—sing his songs. His friends include members of Hootie and the Blowfish, Mark Mullins, Theresa Andersson, John Boutte and more, and they all turn in strong performances that are right for the songs. When Susan Cowsill sings one of Sanchez’ kid songs, she hits the right tone—playful, but not cutesy. When Better Than Ezra’s Kevin Griffin sings “Someone Again,” the natural ache in his voice serves Sanchez’ song about dealing with the tension between the personal and public life of a musician. The strings are effective, though they can’t obscure the odd amount of echo on Griffin’s voice.
The CD is a tribute to Sanchez the songwriter. He has written songs others will gladly be a part of, find connections to, and over and over he turns phrases artfully. He should be proud to see his work treated so lovingly, but Between Friends would benefit from an inexplicable decision. An idiosyncratic, human moment or two when people made artistically unpredictable, strangely right decisions would anchor the craft and connect the performances to real people.