Categorized | Album Reviews

Nick Parker – Besta Venya

Posted on 05 May 2017 by Joe

As a recording artist Nick Parker has something of a split personality.

On one hand the Somerset based singer-songwriter is keen to commit to disc his upbeat, often funny, proven crowd-pleasers from a relentless touring schedule that takes him across Europe and the UK festival circuit each year.

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On the other, each of his three albums also showcase at least three or four slower, subtler track. It is often these more nuanced songs that emerge as the best. Free from the pressure of trying to please a crowd, they are given more time to develop across their chorus and verses and often have the melodies that linger the longest.

The same applies on his latest Besta Venya, with the best three tracks tucked away at the back.

The first of these is a wonderful duet with his daughter Flo, backed by just mandolin and aptly titled A Simple Song. With the less is more ethos in full flow this may well be the best on the album.

Then there’s Not Fooling Me, a lullaby written with after show gigs in mind and almost hidden at the 11th track mark. Backed by cello, violin and piano this has the best arrangements on the album.

Right at the album’s close is The Other Half, with another fine melody and this time accompanied by a Beatles-esque arrangement of flugal horn and full band. It may be the last track on the album but is often the  first I go to.

As for the crowd pleasers, they demand attention too, especially as they will have just delighted many of those buying this album at post-gig merchandise stalls.

Down With the Yoof, about embarrassing dads, will be a particular welcome inclusion for those who have just seen him perform. This involves a neat multi-media aspect, where a member of the crowd places a mobile phone featuring footage of Parker’s singing mouth over their face.

Nick Parker performing Down With the Yoof

Nick Parker performing Down With the Yoof

Es Tut Mir Leid, about the English trait of apologising all the time, is another interactive track that works as well on album as it does live, where the audience is asked to help out with sing-along prompt cards.

Each track comes with an explanation about its subject matter or how it was written. This is important as these are a key part of Parker’s engaging on-stage banter.

When talking of the tracks about his life as a songwriter and performer,  this is particularly effective.

A case in point is Make Yourself At Home, which references a mis-booking for Parker where he was asked to play in the lobby of the Cheese and Grain in Frome, as people made their way to their seats to see John Cooper Clarke. A support slot gone wrong.

An Open Letter To My Human is another that requires this self-deprecating explanation. This focuses on his inability to write about politics, as seen through the eyes of his disapproving dog. Given he travels frequently to Europe from a country that has voted for Brexit it may not be long before he relents in spite of the inevitable pet protests.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

For more information about Nick Parker visit his website here.

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