07 April 2015 (released)
06 April 2015
It has been a while since we heard from Ian but this album suggests he has lost none of his skills in either the vocal or guitar department while his songwriting is a strong and deep as ever.
He is back with old friends Chris Finn *drums) and Dave Jenkins (bass) (as well as Morg Morgan on keyboards) and the two create a powerful rhythm that somehow frees Parker to be as expressive as can be and gives a solid and reliable backing to one of Britain’s finest guitarists.
It takes a lot of balls to open the album with a cover of Richie Havens ‘Freedom’ (the song that opened the Woodstock festival) but he gives it a hell of a going at with poundimg rhythms and Parker’s soft and heartfelt vocal. The guitar lines are kept simple but the solo is sharp and sits perfectly under the rhythm – Morg Morgan’s Hammond swells and ebbs, always there but never overshadowing the rhythm at the core of the number. All told a stunning version and remarkably true to the original.
Of his own songs ‘Long Done and Gone’ definitely sees Parker back in the Blues with a vengeance; a dark and atmospheric sound with some fine slide from Parker and a heavy bass and drums creating a dense miasma.
On ‘Kampuchea’ Parker gives one of the best solos I’ve heard from him. He is one of those guitarists that don’t feel the need to show off their technique and the result is loaded with space and emotion but doesn’t overpower the song.
I definitely get the feeling that Ian Parker has been saving his juices for this album – his first since 2008 – and the breathy vocals and Blues soul that were so much a part of his music when I first heard him back in 2003 are back. He has never been a shouty singer or fretboard terrorist, always had something to say with his songs and that is fully realised here.
‘Truth’ is so dark and emotive with Parker at his most whispery but the track draws you in and makes it impossible to ignore his words as he pours his heart out in the song. The solo is absolutely of his trademark – slightly Gilmore like but spare and harrowing.
He covers Cream’s ‘Politician’, managing to put over the duality of the lyrics perfectly but the closer ‘Left To Lose’ takes us back into the heartbreaking and emotional Ian Parker that has been a feature of his music for years.
Ian makes a big statement here about returning to the Blues but the truth is that his is a very personal and very British interpretation of the Blues and I prefer to see it as returning to his own sound – something tells me that this one will be a live staple in years to come.
There aren’t many singer/songwriters around who can write as well as Ian Parker and fewer guitarists who have their own voice. Welcome back Ian Parker, it’s been too long.