Paul Sachs (from the album Survival is the New Success) - Delancey Street, Williamsburg Bridge, Alphabet City…romantic landmarks of NYC…names that hold allure only on paper or screen. Any sense of romance, or any of the other emotions that form around and foil youth, were the lessons Paul Sachs received from the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Though the area is gentrified today, for kids in the 60’s and 70’s, the streets were a playground pockmarked with landmines in the form of broken bottles and used needles. From a young age, Paul’s eyes were trained first for physical survival, and later for survival, and success, as a folk singer. In 2013, Paul Sachs won the New Folk Songwriters contest at Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. His latest release, Survival is the New Success, continues the development of a folk musician for modern times. No hybrids appear, and no need to claim dual citizenship for cool cred as Folk Rock, the instrumentation on Survival is the New Success gathers around an acoustic guitar and the man whose finger-picking style is as crucial to the songs as his one-line jabs and jeers.
There are probably a finite number of characters that can appear in song. Paul still considers himself a member in “The Junkies” as he says goodbye to a former friend with ‘nothing left to lose’. He shows that for a life on the outer edges of society “Trouble Comes Easy” while “Still Life” uses brush strokes to paint the beauty of bodies coming together. In the pen of Paul Sachs every character is unique, yet not so much that they may not have appeared on the ink and paper of other writers. Odds are good that “Hank Williams Guitar” could have been in another’s tune, though on Survival is the New Success, Paul marries the singer and the song, scribing one star fading and one star rising. Again, it might be possible that “Oswald’s Window” could have been name checked in a song story, the assassination of a president and the place where the shot was fired make for a good fodder. Where Paul Sachs may beat the house odds for a completely unique character is with “Jesse”. Over a country and western story song riff, the tale immediately becomes that of the ‘other brother’, the twin who did not survive birth. The body is gone, yet it is the spirit of the dead brother pulling the strings, he is playing the guitar while the man alive gets the women. The song quotes their mother as having the line that places this particular death in music history, and makes “Jesse” one of a kind in song as he relates that ‘mama said we were bound to one another inside the king of rock’n’roll’.”