The fact that Denis Parker is already enshrined in the Newfoundland & Labrador Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame has not slowed him down. In fact, he's been ridiculously prolific since that happened, with 2018's Been So Long, 2020's Country Blue, and now this double album, featuring 22 tracks. That's on top of a long career dating back to England in the late '60s where he started out recording folk blues at Abbey Road Studios. That's cool.
So's the fact that Denis still does blues in its purest form, guitar and voice, with only occasional guests adding a touch of fiddle or slide or vocals. But don't mistake that for simplicity. Parker coaxes mood and magic out of his guitar, putting everything into those notes and chords, whether light-hearted ("Breakfast Blues") or dark. The set is split into two sections, an album of instrumentals and one of vocals, the latter featuring old and new compositions, and some favourite blues standards he's adapted. "Fall For You" features a more modern, rock-inspired melody, minor chords echoing the lover's pain in the lyrics. "Once Around The Harbour" sees him return to a tune he first recorded back in 1977, featuring a fiddle that helps the tune cross over from his English roots to newfound influences in Newfoundland. It's a haunting tune that echoes Richard Thompson.
The instrumental half (Solo Kite) is all new, featuring ten melodies that he's created using a recent interest in alternate tunings. Parker shows the power of an instrumental, creating different moods in a variety of styles, ear-pleasing and thoughtful. Rather than blending into the background, these induce a meditative state. I found myself forgetting about writing deadlines, emergency room wait times, and classified documents in garages, instead just concentrating on that lovely sound. Play on, Mr. Parker.
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