NIGEL PARRY - Tales Of Common Folk, Salt & Sweet Kisses
If you are looking for an album to ‘raise the rafters’ then Nigel Parry’s new CD, Tales Of Common Folk, Salt & Sweet Kisses, doesn’t exactly fit the bill. This work is a reflective, mellow journey that reflects Nigel Parry’s musical style, described in his own words as: “soulful Folkiwi music”. Hailing from Wellington, the album features some of New Zealand’s finest folk musicians; displaying a cornucopia of talent, the CD features vocals, fiddle, harp, cello, harmonica, low whistles, wooden flute, bagpipes, frame drum, a Puerto Rican cuatro that sounds like a mandola and a dobro guitar.
All albums must begin with something, and the opening track sets the feel and timbre of a CD and for what is to come after. However, therein lies the rub, as by definition that first track colours the rest. In this case we are treated to Three Danish Galleys, an ancient tale of Viking raiding and the subsequent consequences of reprisal. The manner in which Nigel Parry acquired the song from a red faced “elderly sea captain” is worthy of note. Apparently the song had been treasured by his family since “Drake’s time and before” and well it might have been. The song is a slow haunting ballad, which certainly hints at a much older modal style that would have been familiar to Beowulf and his contemporaries.
Whilst the album has a slow wistful treatment throughout, and rarely seems to change up a gear, nevertheless the content is interesting. The ‘tradition’ as we know and love it, often deals with betrayal, love, death and murder most foul. The universal subject matter often reflects the constant human condition, and usually tends to be set within the parameters of the particular timeframe of the song. Accepting that is ‘a given’ for traditional material, where does that leave progression? Refreshingly, many of the songs on this CD are a reflection and observation of the subtle and not so subtle changes in our modern world, thereby allowing the folk wheel to continue spinning.
Although the tempo of the collective remains similar, the vocals are clear, and the production and musicianship are excellent throughout. A pleasant listen that belies some of the serious undertones of the CD.
John Oke Bartlett
This review appeared in Issue 145 of The Living Tradition magazine