I always say that when it comes to the best music, the use of genres and labels are terrible ways to try to describe things. It’s a bit like talking about cars by just mentioning the colour of their bodywork, or describing a meal via a list of ingredients. Genres might be easy shorthand for lazy journos (like me) but it’s not how music works. The best music defies mere genres or is a subtle blend of many and that is what we are dealing with here.
Christian Parker makes music that comes from a folky place, that has a singer-songwriter vibe and which is driven by deft and dexterous acoustic playing style. But that is only half the story… if that. The real joy here is the less tangible elements, the gracefulness of the voice, the ability to merge the best qualities of many genres; folky authenticity, country cool, pop infectiousness, bluesy spaciousness and the understatement of the balladeering troubadour. And to do all of that, to take these tried and tested elements and come out with his own unique sound.
You’ll recognise sounds and styles, the building blocks might look familiar but it is the unique sonic architecture that he builds which shows just how astute a songwriter he is. There are country groovers such as Tulsa County and folky flurries such as Fire With Fire, but for the most part, he is a genre of one…which is what all artists should aim to be. Songs such as Cast A Line are both subdued and addictive, rolling along on a whistful vibe and reflective lyrics, Slow Life is fuelled by a sort of Celtic lullaby sensory feeling and Sojourner’s Prayer is concise, anticipatory and atmospheric.
A gorgeous collection of songs and an album that will build a bridge between the mainstream and music made in more discerning quarters.