[24-year-old Paddy Casey has been playing gigs on the streets of his hometown Dublin since he picked up the guitar at 12. Casey's debut album, Amen (So Be It) was recorded in just eight days. It went on to reach the Top 20 in the Irish album charts and earned Paddy a Best Album award at the Irish World Awards and nominations for Best Irish Songwriter and Best Male Singer at the prestigious Hot Press Awards. Paddy was voted Most Promising Act while Amen (So Be It) was voted Best Debut Album in the Hot Press year-end reader's poll; he was also nominated in seven other categories.

Following the release of Amen (So Be It) in the UK & Ireland last year, Paddy toured extensively, supporting the likes of REM, AniDiFranco, Ian Brown and the Pretenders, in addition to his own headline gigs and playing Glastonbury.

Amen (So Be It) combines elements of not only folk, rhythm & blues, rock, jazz and gospel, but funk, electronics and even hip-hop (one of his goals is to open for Public Enemy). "When I first went in, it wasn't even supposed to be an album," says Paddy. "I was just sort of fantasizing about all the different kinds of music I liked, and playing around with my songs in different styles." Asked about his early influences, he replies: "Anything that wasn't in the charts, I suppose... Music you didn't hear everyday. Records you picked up at flea markets." On the album's liner notes, he thanks, among others, Bob Marley, Otis Redding, Prince, John Martyn, Tracy Chapman, Nina Simone, Duke Ellington, Randy Crawford, Parliament and Billie Holiday.

The wishful single, "Whatever Gets You True," features a swirling roller-rink organ and a dizzying rush of imagery. "Everybody Wants" has a thick, sensuous layer of guitar chords that underlines the song's seductive pull, while the relaxed jazz-like feel and shorthand title of "Would U Be" underlines Casey's admiration of The Artist Formerly Known As.... "Downtown," which boasts a sultry reggae beat, is like one of those "songs from the soundtrack of 'Foxy Brown,'" according to Casey.

Much of Amen (So Be It) reflects the conflict between Paddy's own spiritualism and humanist pragmatism, which comes across in his awe of the unconditional love between a child and parent in "Can't Take That Away" and the anxiety about modern society expressed in "Fear," a track the NME called "Paddy at his poignant best." "Ancient Sorrow" uses scratching and drum machines to update its prayerful, plaintive look back, while songs like the acoustic ballad "Sweet Suburban Sky" and the impassioned closing track, "It's Over Now, are universal in their linking of the personal to the political. Amen (So Be It) touches on the human in a way that transcends geographical, as well as musical borders. The atmospheric arrangements create a visual quality that turn the songs into cinematic narratives.

Amen (So Be It) is an engrossing debut from a performer who cut his teeth playing for people on the street. "The thing is, you never know what's going to happen," he says of busking. "You could have a brilliant night or a terrible night. People basically came and hung around, not because they paid, but because they were getting a thrill out of it. And I kinda got a thrill out of them getting a thrill."

When asked about his goals for the album, Paddy Casey states tongue-in-cheek (maybe), "Basically, I want everyone in the world to hear this record, that's why I made it." Giving the matter further thought, he lightens up. "Actually, I want to get sued by my manager on 'Judge Judy' and appear on 'The Simpsons.'"

Paddy is managed by U2 company, Principle Mgt.