Maybe it's attributable to spending so much time in upstate New York, but Parker, Britain's quintessential angry young man in the '70s, comes out sounding almost pastoral on his latest album.
From spitfire pub punk to wandering minstrel...what a trip it has been. Maybe it's all a maturation process, as Parker implies in one of this album's best tracks, "A Brand New Book": "Because the words came out/ Not twist and shout/ Cause that's not what a grown man writes about/ That chapter's over, let it blow over/I found that I've become the owner/ Of a brand new book."
The new mellowness shows at the start on the folky "She Wants So Many Things," with Garth Hudson, formerly of the Band, on accordion and John Sebastian (ex-Lovin' Spoonful) on Autoharp. This castigative portrait of a woman spills out in a tumble of words reminiscent of the Dylan of the "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" era.
There is still a measure of sting in Parker's thin, aspersive voice. But very few songs—the exceptions being "And It Shook Me" and "When I Was King"—have the taut, artfully turned quality we've come to expect from him. (RCA)