Graham Parker has stepped it up a notch in recent years. Always a fine songwriter and singer, he hit a lull in the late ’80s and most of the ’90s. This is his third killer record for Bloodshot.
Parker’s writing, as almost always, moves easily here between storytelling and sarcasm. The storytelling is especially strong here, supplying two especially notable songs, “The Other Side of the Reservoir” and “Suspension Bridge.” “I Discovered America” tells a story of Parker’s travels in America. The sarcasm on cuts like “England’s Latest Clown,” at first might be about one of England’s young princes, but it’s really about a rock or pop star who Parker perhaps doesn’t like. “Stick to the Plan” is a not-so-subtle shot at the Bush Administration set to a rollicking, rocky R&B feel, complete with a Kazoo solo!
Parker plays most of the guitars – acoustic and electric – all bass, lap steel, harmonica, and some percussion. And he supplies some fine playing; his solo on “Ambiguous” is punchy, and almost jazzy. The aforementioned “The Other Side of the Reservoir” has soulful fills galore. And “Total Eclipse of the Moon” has enough rhythm and lead to keep three or four players busy.
Graham may not be the angry young man he once was, but his reflective nature still makes him one of the most perceptive rock songwriters around.
This article originally appeared in VG’s Jul. ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.