PAUL WALKER & KAREN PFEIFFER
Auf Wiedersehen, Me Duck
She, raised in Stuttgart, he from Stoke-on-Trent, an unlikely pairing you might think when it comes to music but this new album disproves that theory from first note to last.
They share songwriting duties and on stage Karen’s boundless energy coupled to Paul’s calm, workmanlike exterior and their obvious love of their chosen professional turn such performance into a real event.
New Zealand, Australia, Germany and Ireland are countries so far visited as well as many corners of the UK and everywhere they travel they continue to garner new followers.
Appropriately enough the opening track harks back to the Industrial Age of Stoke-on-Trent as it would have been more than fifty years ago, so many towns, especially in the Midlands, would have been very similar.
It tells of three men who gave a lifetime to their chosen jobs, pottery, coal mining and making steel, they gave their heart and soul, but in the end, for what? Was it really, “Our Golden Age”.
Paul wrote, “Where I Live”, at a songwriting workshop with John Spillane. The title is a metaphor for Paul’s relationship with Karen. A softly sung ballad.
A quite startling statistic is that over four million people are just one payday away from being homeless just ordinary working people who might succumb with a little bad luck and fall on really hard times, so, “What If My Pockets Were Empty”?
So many websites advertise online song-writing competitions, so you enter your newly written “baby” and pay your entry fee but what happens next? You might well ask. Take a tip, don’t become the latest member of, “The Rejected Song-writer’s Club”.
Paul covers his life story in just three verses, from pottery worker, musician and then for 20 years wandering around inside the corporate machine until meeting Karen and finding, “The Answer”.
Most of us are guilty of spending too much time on the internet and social media. Karen’s German heritage makes her an expert on to-do lists, organisation and punctuality. “No Time (The Facebook Blues)” explains how she has still to master modern day technology.
The Staffordshire village where Paul and Karen live, many years ago held a May Queen Festival on the village green. “The Ballad of the Queen of May” looks back at what it might have been like, not many May Queens were murdered, but folk song gives a special license to such things.
I have been lucky enough on a couple of occasions to witness Joan Baez sing one of her most popular songs live. “Diamonds and Rust”, it provides Ciaran Algar’s fiddle playing to shine through.
The date of someone’s birth and then many years later the final date of life, but it’s those years in between that count for so much. Life really is, “Down to Numbers”.
Following a visit to the Cork Folk Festival in 2019, Karen and Paul heard John Spillane perform his composition, “Under That Old Clare Moon”, they were hooked and here is their version.
“Peat Bog Soldiers/Die Moorsodaten” was written by prisoners of war in a Nazi concentration camp. It is popular today with the Peace Movement.
The CD’s title track fittingly ends the recording, originally written as a thank you to all those behind the scenes at clubs and festivals without whom there would be at times chaos.
Traditionally Karen and Paul finish their set with it and the audience join in, this live track was recorded at Broughton Parish Room, Staffordshire. A great way to finish.
Karen and Paul are building quite a reputation for themselves as they are proving improvement comes through hard work.
The road ahead looks to bear so much promise, as they both realise there are no shortcuts but I feel that the ladder they are climbing will bring them the continued success they deserve.