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Irish singer/songwriter Paddy Casey's years as a busker on the streets of Galway and his home town of Dublin served him well. Not only did it allow him to associate from an early age with future breakout artists like Glen Hansard (of the Frames), Mundy, and Mark Dignam, but he developed a keen instinct for the type of melody and songwriting that are immediate and arresting, but with a natural intimacy not often heard in conventional pop music. Though an admitted pure soul devotee, Casey performs music that is heavily informed by its medium — the singer and his acoustic guitar — coming across as if Bob Dylan had taken to imitating Nina Simone, with elements of Prince and Public Enemy thrown in for good measure.
Casey began busking on Dublin's streets in the early '90s while still in his early teens. In 1998, the earnest street musician became a cog in the major-label machine, signing to Sony subsidiary S2 Records at the behest of Spencer Davis Group bassist turned A&R man Muff Winwood, who had spotted Casey performing in Dublin and quickly became enamored. Heading into the studio later that year just to transfer some basic ideas to tape, Casey inadvertently wound up recording his debut album, Amen (So Be It). Released in June of 1999, the album debuted in the Top Twenty of the Irish albums chart, eventually going triple platinum, and was awarded the Best Debut Album award at the Hot Press Irish Music Awards. Perhaps an overly self-conscious statement of the artist's diverse palette, the album was nonetheless accomplished, with a range of styles integrated into his folky soul core, from jazz to funk to reggae, and with hip-hop beats and scratches subtly incorporated; however, Amen (So Be It)'s most endearing moments were its simplest, and Casey soon became well known for his Dylan-esque protest song "Sweet Suburban Sky," which was featured prominently on U.S. television show Dawson's Creek.
Though the album was released in the U.S. in June of 2000, over three years passed before a follow-up was issued, an explanation for his absence alluded to in its title. Living was issued in Ireland in October of 2003 and in the U.K. in March of 2004, following the unprecedented success in Ireland of lead single "Saints and Sinners," eventually going 12 times platinum. The same year, Casey recorded two tracks for charity album Even Better Than the Real Thing, Vol. 2: a new arrangement of "Saints and Sinners" featuring the Dublin Gospel Choir, and an acoustic rendering of Blackstreet's "No Diggity" (a longtime live favorite).Living was reissued in Ireland in November of 2004 as a double-disc set including B-sides and rarities. The staggered release of the album led Casey to be honored with the Best Irish Male award at both the 2004 and 2005 Meteor Irish Music Awards. During the first half of 2007, Casey recorded his third studio album, Addicted to Company, Pt. 1, featuring a guest appearance by former bandmate and solo artist Declan O'Rourke. It was released in Ireland and the U.K. the following September, with the title track simultaneously released as a single.