Anders Parker

By - Nov 1st, 2006 02:52 pm
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By Frank Olson

On his self-titled album, former Varnaline frontman Anders Parker displays a knack for capturing a lonely highway vibe not dissimilar to The Rolling Stones on their old country songs. Parker, though, is neither as engaging as Mick Jagger nor as good a songsmith as the Glimmer Twins, which, while not a criticism in itself, casts a long shadow for Parker to sidestep. The end result is a singer-songwriter album with dreary, light-grunge singing and forgettable songwriting.

There are a few decent songs here, including the opening “Circle Same,” which uses a looping structure to give the standard going-nowhere lyrics more weight, and “False Positive,” which marries a tightly-coiled verse section to a George Harrison-esque chorus. But even these bright spots seem more the work of a good producer (Adam Lasus, who has worked with Clem Snide) and a good band (including former members of Uncle Tupelo and the Jayhawks) than of the spotlight talent.

The album’s best moments are the ones that allow the band to stretch out and reshape the generally uninteresting songs. A dramatic electric guitar/steel pedal duet ends the otherwise dull “Dear Sara;” instrumental breaks change up the pace of “Airport Road;” thundering percussion underlines a sensitive pedal steel solo in “Under Wide Unbroken Skies.” But these moments are few, and most of Anders Parker is dominated by generic alt-country songs and lyrics that often literally sound like Hallmark cards.

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