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Graham Parker
Don't Tell Columbus
Bloodshot Records

I remember when I first started telling all my country music loving buddies about Graham Parker and they all thought I was talking about Graham Parsons and how could he have a new record out since he'd been deceased for more than a decade? Well, I wasn't talking about the Fallen Angel at all, but about a great songwriter in his own right, a man that sings as straight and true as any man ever has and writes some of the finest songs this side of the Atlantic Ocean. I'm talking about Graham Parker, and here's why…

Graham Parker started his career as a rocker, bridging the gap between the wild literacy of Warren Zevon and the pure rock'n'roll greatness of the likes of Elvis Costello. His music has spanned more than three decades and he has been a tremendous influence in the music of many others, while he has continued to evolve his own sound. Parker's last few records have slowly been building into a more alt. country/folkish sound, and on Don't Tell Columbus Parker has built his sound into the same kind of rootsy Americana more closely associated with the likes of John Hiatt. The title track is all tweedish clean guitars and lightly bouncing rhythms accompanying a righteously sophisticated veiled tale about America. Much of Don't Tell Columbus is focused on telling about the baseline of America and Parker's dislike of the current state of political affairs in this country. Some of the anti-regime rhetoric is somewhat thinly veiled, as in "England's Latest Clown", while other sentiments ring deep and true.

That being said, and myself not being one to get too political about music, Don't Tell Columbus is a fantastic record for those that dig the rootsy work of the aforementioned Hiatt, or the tongue-in-cheek meanness of folkies like John Prine. "Ambiguous" is a catchy acoustic number with a nice swing that almost hides the biting lyrical content, while "The Other Side Of The Reservoir" is a slow dirgey ballad as rich and beautiful as any music ever made, recalling the slower moments of Springsteen. "Total Eclipse Of The Moon" throws back a bit to Parker's earlier jangle-pop days with some fine melodies and the kind of amazingly literate wordplay that has made the man a favorite among his peers. By the time the record hits "Stick To The Plan" the realization hits that Parker draws much of his own influence from Bob Dylan, and then the further realization that almost all of the great songwriters of modern roots music draw more heavily from Dylan than anything else. Hmm….

With his current leanings towards Americana, Graham Parker is appealing more and more to the aging rockers, as well as to the current crowd of alt. country folk. His music runs the gamut from slow and beautiful to poppy and a bit rockish while maintaining his brilliant lyricism and ability to tell stories or make commentary on current affairs. Parker may be best known for his older material when he was a smaller fish in a much smaller pond, but his newer songs outshine his previous works and put him on par with some of today's master storytellers.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. I Discovered America
2. England's Latest Clown
3. Ambiguous
4. The Other Side Of The Reservoir
5. Suspension Bridge
6. Love Or Delusion
7. Total Eclipse Of The Moon
8. Stick To The Plan
9. Somebody Saved Me
10. Hard Side Of The Rain
11. Bullet Of Redemption
12. All Being Well

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