Graham Parker - Your Country
4 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: April 19, 2004
Review by Andy ArgyrakisA lot has happened in the 30-year career of U.K. singer/songwriter Graham Parker, from his blockbuster run with the superb backing band The Rumour to a solo acoustic route that's spanned a spacious catalogue on many major labels. Those who think they may have figured out the outspoken, and at times, outlandish troubadour are sure to be surprised with Parker's latest twist of artistic fate- one that brings him to Chicago's very own Bloodshot Records for his debut country release.
The label may be best known for birthing Ryan Adams, Neko Case and the Waco Brothers, but with this legend of sorts, now takes on a whole new dimension. Instead of trying to fit in with that rebellious new school, Parker's Your Country returns to a simpler time of country music when songs were sung from the heart, instruments were played with gritty aggression and studio overdubs were completely non-existent. Such heart shines through from the onset of the disc, which greets listeners with Graham's signature growl backed by stripped down acoustics of "Anything For a Laugh." Additional instances of honky-tonk authority resurface with the fireball twang of "Queen of Compromise" and the sputtering sarcasm of "The Rest Is History," both of which cross Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks sessions with Neil Young's classic Harvest.
On "Cruel Lips," sensuality takes over thanks to some help from duet partner Lucinda Williams, whose appearance as a seductive songstress is dead on. The pair had previously toured together immediately following Williams' debut release Sweet Old World and thankfully the pair's rekindled chemistry is stronger than ever. Other nuggets include a southern fried reworking of Parker's previously released "Crawling From the Wreckage" (which became a Dave Edmunds hit) along with the hillbilly rustling of "Things I've Never Said." For a guy would could've easily settled into his old ways or quietly stepped out of the spotlight, Parker has returned with a vengeance that's likely to expose him to whole new audience.
Graham Parker performs at Martyr's (3855 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago) Friday, April 30. For more information, log onto www.martyrslive.com or www.grahamparker.net.
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