Review: Johnny Parry – More Love & Death

Back in 2006, I experienced the music of Johnny Parry for the first time. At the time I compared him to Antony Hegarty and I’m surprised I haven’t heard more from Parry until now. The comeback ‘More Love & Death’ sees him return with a trusty backing band of string and brass players.

‘God Loves Me’ represents a typically ambitious introduction. As the operatic soprano Donna Loomans warbles in the background, the strident tune seems vaudevillian at first but it is brought back to the modern age by visceral lines such as “I have woman. I have cock”. By contrast ‘Fields and Birds and Things’ is a subdued whisper of a track; ambient and evocative of nature. ‘Kicking And Screaming’ begins similarly slowly but the drums and Parry’s increasingly desperate rasp stagger towards the chorus whilst the high-pitched ‘Dine Alone’ – mainly just Parry and percussion – is the most Hegarty-like song.

Yet for all its tasteful classical arrangements, I was left a little cold by some of the album and the novelty of Loomans’ operatic backing becomes irritiating after a while. Nevertheless, there are gems here and all of them occur in the second half. There’s the spare piano-led ‘Love Will Hunt You Down’, the soaring elegance of ‘Piece By Piece’  and  ‘The Wonderful Adventures Of Lucy And I’; a fabulous piece of music that is as sad, poignant and beautiful as Tindersticks’ ‘My Sister’.

‘More Love & Death’ is certainly a bold, artistic statement. It’s a little highbrow in parts and consequently the theatrical nature of some of the music can get in the way of the songwriting but – towards the end of the record – Parry’s talent begins to make sense. Don’t be surprised to hear more from him in the future.

Web Sites:
Johnny Parry Official Site
Johnny Parry MySpace
Lost Toys Label and Shop Site

Further Listening:
Antony And The Johnsons, The Bathers

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