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March 23, 2009 | by  | in Music |
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Mel Parsons – Over My Shoulder

There is something about autumn that breeds stoicism. I don’t know about you, but on these cold March days, I feel pleased with myself just for leaving the house. “Gosh!” I say to myself, “You’re standing up. How very impressive.” Then I go about the rest of my day feeling that I’ve been hard done by just because I live a life in which I have to walk through anything other than sunshine.

This has nothing to do with music. But what does have something to do with music, is Mel Parson’s new album entitled Over My Shoulder. It’s folk, which is just the genre to listen to on a cold day over a cup of tea. Good timing, Mel! (And see how I tied that first paragraph together with the second? I’m getting prouder of myself by the second.) The album starts with Still Life, the first 30 seconds of which I love: pretty guitar and vocal harmonies. Nice! But then there is this awful electronic twang. Then it gets nice again. Then that twang again. Jesus. This first thirty seconds pretty well sums up both the strengths and weaknesses of this album. The folk songs that remained folk were strong and beautiful, but when Parsons ventured into other genres (country, jazz) I applauded her moxy, while simultaneously turning down my iPod.

So, with the knowledge that I am biased towards folk for folk’s sake:

I particularly liked ‘On Your Grave’. A sad wee ditty about… diff lock? Wait, no, I think she said “stiff like card.” Hmm, maybe I misheard that lyric. It’s probably actually about love lost—what all good folk songs are about. Gosh, I could take a really nice bath to this song. Lovely. A simply arranged song, with attractive touches of horns and what sounds like xylophone. Maybe it’s keyboard.

I am not such a fan of ‘Darlin’ darlin’’. A repetitive (not in the good way) song that asks “When are you coming home?/I can’t touch you on the phone.” Deep. I found ‘Far Fetched Idea’ to be bizarrely similar to ‘Darlin’ darlin’’, just a slightly less annoying rendition.

I did, however, enjoy the kiwi flavour that Parsons infuses throughout the album. I can see flax waving about the place! And baches! Tip top! Orrsome! Having said that, this does remind me strongly of Anika Moa or Bic Runga. Maybe I’ll give this to my dad so he’ll stop thrashing Beautiful Collision. Please dad, enough’s enough.

My flatmate says “I’d buy that album even if I had to skip a few songs.” She also says, “This music is for 30-year-old divorcees.” I tend to agree. I’m not sure that we are the intended audience. I feel as though I should be married, or have been married. Or have had a child out of wedlock. Or own a flock of sheep. But these are just general guidelines—I’m sure Parsons doesn’t discriminate.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Vidya Singh says:

    Hey, I like Darlin’ Darlin’. Yes, it isn’t that deep but as anyone who’s ever had a long-distance relationship knows there’s nothing like the frustration of not being able to properly communicate with that person you love.
    In your case you are a Kiwi, Maggie – no point in pretending you’re not, waving flax, pipis, sheep and all.
    I agree with you about the electronica thing, it jars a bit with the rest of the lovely melodies.

  2. Dobro Joe says:

    The ‘Electronic Twang’ You refer to is a slide guitar, played by one of NZs most talented performers. Research then review please. Ranting about shit you dont understand makes you look stupid.

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