Yes and Yes Sunday Jammers. Hope you have been making it all good, good, good and are enjoying the beauty and healing of the glorious rays of sunshine, making it so much easier to amble through the city. I fully support a late summer so, on and on I hope it goes. This week is the second instalment of September and the month of 'She' - I think I’ve named it well. For anyone who didn’t get a chance to check in, The Mercury Music Prize was won by the beautiful, elegant and cool as hell Arlo Parks. My heart actually leapt when her name was called, incidentally by another 'She', another long-time favourite, Annie Mac. It was an actual moment of magic hearing Parks' name called, realising it was true then seeing her accept was perfect, the kind that I wish could be made tangible by gold plating it or something.
I have such love for Parks, her approach, her musical philosophy, her style and what she does just by existing and being visible. She truly is a modern poet and musician, her musical DNA is deeply entwined in the styles that she loves and references – see any of her playlists – she’s taken those threads with such clarity and woven them with such grace and elegance, never shying from vulnerability, emotional confusion or any of the other general pains that come with being human. Plus, I cannot help but be charmed by her during interviews. She's got this otherworldly quality yet manages to remain rich, earthy and relatable. Vocally she has found a space where opposite forces always seem in perfect harmony veering somewhere between certainty and contemplation without compromise. I try not to make comparisons with other artists because it always feels reductive but I hope in this case it comes across as a homage rather than flippant or lazy; listening to Parks feels like watching someone who crossed paths and - in some fantasy- mentored in the early stages of their quest by the incredible Skye Edwards whose voice continues to take up space in my psyche without even having to hear her music, it just moves so effortlessly through. That’s a team up I’d be so into so if anyone has the power to make it happen know that I’d help you spread the word. Parks has picked up the baton of trip hop and moved it into the 21st century with unflinching confidence.
So, for today I offer ‘Cola’ from 2018 (check out her newer stuff you will not be disappointed) this is where I started with her and I’m a great believer in going back (musically speaking) so you can understand the present. When I heard it, I was blown away by the vocal harmonies – the interplay between the different parts of her register, the solidity of the bass and the narrative that runs through the lyrics. What sounds like a mellow and paired back tune is actually a searing rebuke at the carelessness of a lover who has become disappointing and cliched. You’ll find hip hop and trip hop wrapped firmly round each other, jazz notes, indie tinges all held together by visual storytelling and bittersweet lyrical imagery that is heartbreaking but also has this almost dry, wry humour that I can’t help but smile at.
Its part love lament and other part assertion of an intention to move past and forward; so, so beautiful. This is the kind of strength I can’t help but be drawn to, it’s knowing without arrogance, confident but does not lack humility – a modern magical being and I am fully, fully smitten.
Congratulations to Arlo Parks and all who sail with her, hope you always meet a kind wind and never run out of stories to tell or feelings to share. You are so dope. So, enjoy this quiet storm Sunday Jammers and more next week. Loves and Loves.