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.
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.