Graham Parker’s new Bloodshot release delivers more vitriol and wisdom.
His voice continuing to refine towards the deepest depths of wisdom, Graham Parker is back with a new set of brawling country-rockers on the rollicking new Songs of No Consequence.
This time Parker’s brought along appropriate company in the Nor’Eastern power-punkers, coverers, and admirers of his music, The Figgs. The backing is solid and harkens back to his peak-era Squeezing out Sparks much more than last year’s Your Country did; but the subject-evisceration and bitter insight that made Parker essential to so many in the Seventies (chiefly followers Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson) remains in tact.
Maintaining a firm eye on his most well-regarded period just as he advances, Parker keeps his wits about him. The perky rock-steady of “Evil” stands ironic to its case study of an unpleasant person. But, as usual, Graham is sure to implicate himself, “You’re not horned and you’re not spiky/You’re the flip side of my psyche.”
The album’s only weakness may lie in its relentlessness. “Dislocated” and “Suck ‘n’ Blow” blend together in an almost seamless splenetic flow. The bilious pool that spawns, from former to latter, “And rip up all the pieces of my/Dislocated dislocated life...Well I can play the guitar just like I’m wringing a neck,” could have been diluted for easier consumption and enriched with just a smidge more dimension and variety.
But the very next track is the album’s strongest. “There’s Nothing on the Radio” mixes sexual metaphors with a road trip to deliver among the sharpest complaints on the corporate stranglehold I have yet heard on what should ideally be a forum for free expression, “I don’t want no 60’s junk/Or that 90’s cartoon punk...I don’t want those whiny chicks/Or those cardboard country hicks/I don’t wanna hear this song,” but at the end of each verse, Parker delivers hope: “Don’t worry, you won’t have to.”
On “Chloroform,” where Parker intones, “you look like you’ve got someone else’s/ Hair growin’ outta your head,” he may be illustrating his fans’ perception of him. His new album certainly is not the sound of a man mellowing, relaxing, or even slowing down, but the honest views of an older man whose storied insight has only gained over the last three decades.
Graham Parker & the Figgs play the Double Door on Friday, June 24th. Songs of No Consequence 7.4/10. Released 6/7/2005 on Bloodshot Records.
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