Street Sounds: Kerry Park’s new album reviewed

Street Sounds: North Okanagan singer’s songwriting skills front and centre on new album

(Courtesy of Kerry Parks)

(Courtesy of Kerry Parks)

North Okanagan singer/songwriter/guitarist, Kerry Parks’ new album, Farther Along, is a warm and grainy solo recording with an intimate, roughed up character.

Parks’ skills at the craftsmanship of songwriting are pushed front and centre and his ease with folk/blues sounds are reflected in his easy going growl of a voice. Although Parks’ deceptively laconic delivery is laid back, his songs and wordplay are sharp and insightful. He embraces the atmosphere of the BC/ West Coast acoustic sound full on, adding his own resonance to its regional storytelling style.

This is a mix of commentary and conversation, with elements of political observation and some good times back-on- the- porch content. Some musical signposts of Parks’ style are John Prine and Bob Dylan (the “It Ain’t Me Babe” era) but Parks’ sound shifts further to the Canadian West with songs and sound that reflect landscapes and lifestyle, rural in spirit rather than urban.

As part of the folk/bluegrass/blues trio, Steel Wound, Parks has focussed on organic and traditional song styles with detectable elements of jazz, country and the early protest roots of North American folk. On “Further Along” he gets a little help from his friends Neil Fraser (guitar), Brian McMahon (bass) Paul Fisher (acoustic guitar) Steve Lauriault (harmonica), and Miles Black (Hammond organ). The team of musicians are sympathetic to Parks’ vibe and make his down home songs shine out.

Standout cuts on Farther Along are Reflection — a gently swaying song with mellowed out vocals and lovely guitar work; Pilgrims Plaint– a ringing track with reflective lyrics and traditional folk vibe with shades of early Dylan. There’s a gruff version of the ancient blues, Nobody’s Fault But Mine and Rx: Love: a sarcastically comic bit of wordplay on that subject.

Producers Andrew and Zachari Smith respond to Parks’ material with solidarity – their tasteful layering brings an extra texture to Parks’ comfortable voice and songs.

Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews the latest music releases in his column, Street Sounds, every Friday.

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