Jeremy Parsons – Things I Need to Say
Jeremy Parsons’ musical future gets a whole lot brighter with his new release Things I Need to Say. He wasn’t necessarily laboring in darkness before now, long established as popular live act in both the United States and Europe, and has a warmly received album before this under his belt, but Things I Need to Say represents the major leap forward we hope all artists, regardless of genre, make with their sophomore release. There’s easy-going, intelligently crafted material here included alongside intense, narrative fueled tunes unified in a way such efforts rarely are in modern music while incorporating a spectrum of musical influences without any visible stitching heard in a single song. Things I Need to Say is a release of rare distinction and primarily falls within the purview of Americana music, but you’ll likely dismiss any labels after even a single listen.
There’s an excellent cross section of moods on this album. Parsons opts to build it from an upbeat note with the solidly constructed song “Makin’ It Up As I Go Along”, but it’s obviously from an intelligent songwriter despite its seeming simplicity and careful listening to the tune, paying particular attention to the interplay between the violin and singing, might reveal this song to be a little more than it seems, just wrapped in a pleasing entertainment package. There’s much more gravitas coming through with his performance of the song “Life” and the writing is never ponderous but, instead, contains easily digestible insights well worded to the needs of the song. The acoustic guitar work is very impressive and has a strong melodic bent helping it stand apart from other tracks on the collection.
“Burn This House Down” is another high point on Things I Need to Say thanks to its mix of modern and traditional elements in such a way that, like much of his other work, we feel like Parsons is refurbishing traditions for a modern audience than settling for mere imitation. He indulges a number of clichés, in a way, with this song but makes this song a cut above such material thanks to his ability to reclaim those near formulaic moments with slight twists in his writing. “Purpose” is pure blues rock with fiery lead guitar licks interspersed between the vocal passages and some appropriately wailing harmonica leaving burn marks across the surface of the song.
The streamlined movement of the song “Lisa’s Lost” and carefully orchestrated arrangement helps make its storyline go down easier for listeners – to be sure. The song paints a grim picture of a woman beset by difficulties on all sides and trying to making through life with precious stable ground. The instrumental performances are tasteful, but there’s a certain amount of understated flair coming through as well. He brings accordion into play with the album’s title cut “Things I Need to Say” and the implied intimacy of that title does come across lyrically. The music is composed in an unique way – you can discern how he unites the song’s individual threads into an overall greater whole. Things I Need to Say is a well rounded musical experience free from too much commerciality and, instead, feeling like a genuine expression of Parsons’ heart and soul.