Monk Parker - How The Spark Loves The Tinder (2015)

Monk Parker - How The Spark Loves The Tinder (2015)

Artist: Monk Parker
Title Of Album: How The Spark Loves The Tinder
Year Of Release: 2015
Label: Bronze Rat Records
Genre: Americana, Alt-Country
Quality: 320 / FLAC
Total Time: 41:45 min
Total Size: 102 / 254 MB
1. Sadly Yes (5:40)
2. I Am a Gun (5:24)
3. The Happy Hours (5:52)
4. Wanna Be Forgotten (2:42)
5. Idle in Idlewild (7:26)
6. Black Bees (3:50)
7. Raining in Eva (5:38)
8. The Great Fires (5:13)
Monk Parker's How the Spark Loves the Tinder is fall music—languid, heart-wrenching, suggesting pangs of transition. Singing unhurried minor-key songs burnished with horns, weeping organs, and steel guitar, Parker traffics in a twilit Americana, drifting between Phosphorescent's sun-drunk aphorisms and Castanets' moonlit chill.
The man at the helm here is an itinerant writer and musician named Mangham "Monk" Parker. He went by Parker Noon in the early '00s, when he was based out of New York City and played with his then-girlfriend in a duo called Parker & Lily. After their breakup he relocated to Athens and launched the Low Lows, a rotating collective of musicians with its name taken from a Parker & Lily album.
For the last five years Parker's lived in Austin, where he put together his latest band. The credits to How the Spark Loves the Tinder list 20-some players and several recording studios in New York (including NY Hed, the studio run by Jon Spencer collaborator Matt Verta-Ray) and Austin (including Parker's home), and it feels more ambitious and more fully realized than any of his earlier work. Perhaps that's the reason for Parker's current moniker and why Spark is billed by his label, UK-based Bronze Rat, as a debut.
Parker's lyrics read like poetry, with images of floating stars and nighttime winds and endless skies. "Idle in Idlewild", at seven-some minutes the longest song on the album, contains this perfect triplet: "Some strange April/ When all the stars stall and stay still/ And the days fly by." Parker practically gives each word its own breath.
The arrangements are rich in color and nuance: Opener and lead single "Sadly Yes" builds from a dirge to a big, brassy climax over nearly six minutes, achieving hard-fought catharsis while a Theremin-like wail cuts through. A mournful, elegant suite of clarinet and strings opens "I Am a Gun" before it segues into a kind of chamber-country waltz. There's an extended moment in the middle of "The Happy Hours", a song ostensibly about existential dread in Rapid City, Iowa, where horns and strings assume a density as vast and uplifting as an orchestra.
For all of this life-affirming beauty, the album's operative emotional state is resignation. Parker's songs find solace in the ability to accept defeat—lost love, unfulfilled potential—and present this ability as a form of wisdom. This is the sort of mind state achieved only from age and experience. Far from depressing, the exquisite dejection of How the Spark Loves the Tinder is almost celebratory. After all, you can't fight the changing seasons.

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