Perhaps best known as frontman for the Payola$ on their 1982 new wave classic "Eyes of a Stranger," Paul Hyde has spent the two decades that followed that song on the fringes of fame. But with his first-ever solo acoustic album, The Big Book of Sad Songs, his profile deserves to rise. This stellar, melodic collection of Celtic-tinged folk music in the vein of Richard Thompson and Ray Davies' Village Green-era gets underway with the haunting, stark life-observations of "Runner on the Seashore," before shifting to the contagious, bumper sticker-inspired keeper "I Miss My Mind the Most." The Yorkshire, England-raised, Canada-based Hyde's outlook on the world is as keen as it is real on "I Want You," a shimmering tribute to the irregular shaped majority residing outside of the media's obsessive eye, while gorgeously pensive moments like "Highgate" and "Forever Light Will Shine" are equally gripping. It's a rare occasion when Hyde stumbles, but the simplistic and quirky "The Smallest Coin in the Land" is one of those moments. Just the same, exemplary offerings like "The Maddest of the Mad," a reflective ode to an old punk rock drinking buddy, confirm the aging Hyde still has a lot of musical life left.