You Look Like Hell – James Parenti (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

19959263_1810824049228584_5055518380596650395_nWhy merely be a singer-songwriter when you can be a sonic painter? Why be a guy with a guitar when you can be a conjuror of taste and texture? Why settle for playing songs when you can create worlds? Why be average when you can be James Parenti. Yes, I like the guy. He may be new to me but by the time the soft ethereal opening harmonies of Bones are drifting out of my speakers I can honestly say that I am ready to fall in love with his latest release, the wonderfully named You Look Like Hell. A couple more plays and he will have me in his web.

The real charm of the album is that the core of it IS all the things I listed as the first part of those arguments in my opening salvo but it is his ability to lift those songs into higher states that changes everything. There are holes where rhythm guitars would normally be, minimal pulses of bass where others would over state the case, it plays with deft dynamics, crackling anticipation and sonorous dimensions. It isn’t so much of a “less is more” situation, more a case of some interesting sonic choices, ones that move the music out of the obvious and into the beguiling.

This is the sound of modern indie folk pushing into dream-pop realms, commercial guitar playing reminding us that there are other, better, more articulate and more emotive ways of doing things. It may look like hell but it sounds like heaven.


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