A virtuoso guitarist and a superb, inspired singer, Paul Ponnudorai defies musical boundaries with disarming easiness. He is one of a handful of musicians around the world who rather than just playing music, can afford to play with music. In fact, this album is an exceptional document of his ability and audacity in first dismantling, and then restructuring and reshaping songs, to make them sound unlike anything you have heard before. Right On Time is highly recommended not only to guitar enthusiasts and audiophiles, but to anyone who has a taste for soulful music, for funky grooves, and for beautiful, timeless songs.
Paul Ponnudorai's uniqueness in approaching music is embedded in his geographical roots. Being Malaysian by birth, being of Indian heritage, and being trilingual, Paul represents both as a person and a musician the point of conjunction between East and West. He is a man of rare intelligence, wisdom, and broad knowledge, with a cross-cultural view of the world. Without a doubt these qualities surface in his music, whose origins can equally be traced to Southern India, London and Nashville. It is refreshing to notice how many seemingly unrelated influences can go into Paul's playing and singing, always in the most spontaneous and sincere way.
Sincerity is nonetheless the main trait of Paul Ponnudorai's life and music. His big heart and warm soul come clearly to light in his music, which displays the whole range of human emotions, being at times sad and low, at other times permeated by an irresistible sense of humor. A sense of humor that, incidentally, is a special gift given only to those artists who are too good to bother with taking themselves too seriously.
Whether he plays acoustic or electric guitar, solo or with a band, on a stage or in the studio, Paul Ponnudorai is instinctively at ease in every situation. Although this recording presents only one of his many facets, the solo dimension, it is indeed a detailed photography of his extraordinary stature as a musician. Just consider that all of these tracks were recorded at the first take, with no guitar or vocal overdubs of any kind, except for the guitar solo on "Henry Koh's Lullaby". Everything you hear-bass lines, chord progressions, solos, vocals-comes out of Paul all at the same time, with no tricks. Nothing is artificial here, on this recording Paul plays and sings exactly like he does every night at his gigs. The only concession to technology is a midi processor that he uses in order to obtain his trademark bass sound out of the two lower strings of the guitar. In two short afternoons in the studio Paul recorded so many tunes, that the most difficult part of making this record has been the choice over what songs not to include!
Try also to pay close attention to the variety of the musical influences that go into Paul's style. You can hear reminiscences of Jerry Reed, Tito Puente, B.B.King, João Gilberto, George Benson, Tower of Power and many more in his guitar licks, in his powerful slapping bass lines, and in his percussive effects. Yet everything is blended into a convincing and distinctive style, which is signature Paul Ponnudorai. It is common procedure for Paul to steer the traditional gospel Jericho and the popular Rising Sun into funk territories, making them almost unrecognizable, or to give Misty a bossa-nova-meets-Cuba treatment. The Godfather is turned into a sort of a tribute to Chet Atkins, and Delta Dawn here sounds like it was written by Stevie Wonder. Paul's love for jazz, country, rock, blues, pop, reggae, and for beautiful ballads, is obvious all through this record. So are his talent and his unique voice as a musician.