There’s always a subtle bit of emotion that goes along with simplicity. It’s a mixture of being able to get lost in the music, or the concentration is transferred over to the body of music and it’s purpose. We subconsciously dissect music to fit our state of mind, making connections to either help us or hurt us. The best music can control emotions or create a lasting impression on us. There’s bands and musicians that have created that lasting impression by using complexity to their advantage, but it’s more common to find that ‘it’ sound through experience. Lately, I’ve connected with the indie-folk artist, James Parenti.
He describes his music as, “Rain outside your window”, and although it’s quite accurate, it’s more than that. The phrase to me sounds like it’s in the background, adding to the effect of what’s going on around us. Instead, Parenti’s music is a beating heart in your mind. His debut and most recent album, Maybe That’s Why We Lost, was released in December of 2011 by himself. It’s a mixture of simple, driving guitar playing with intertwining lyrics that act as the lead selling point to his music. Parenti’s voice is very suitable for this style, because it’s so mellow although he is a very talented singer. The trick is that as a listener I think, “I can do that!”, but once I try I only realize how understated his voice is. I can compare it to a folk version of Perfume Genius’, Mike Hadreas, who as well has amazing vocals.
The singing really stands out on tracks like, “Catching Snakes”, and “Don’t Feed The Animals”, where he sings his falsetto and his chest voice, showcasing his talent. Even the guitar and percussion stand out, because to be honest, there isn’t a whole lot going on in these tracks. That’s the beauty of James Parenti, because he uses the atmosphere as an instrument, gripping the listener throughout the entire album. The feature of female singers, Trish and Krystle Phelps, create amazing melodies on these songs. Although very subtle, it’s all that’s needed to progress the tracks.
It’s difficult to describe what songs stand out, because they’re all quite similar. I never found myself bored with these tracks, because a lot like Phil Elvrum’s past band, The Microphones, the album feels like a body of work. I can compare it to the extremely great The Glow Pt. 2, which was released way back in 2001. It’s also difficult to imagine this album being made in the great New York City, because it’s intimate sound reflects that of the North West. I could imagine the sound reflecting the beauty of the city, as if becoming lost in the bustle is a wonderful sight. I make the connections to a suburban North West city, like Seattle or Bellingham, much like Death Cab For Cutie’s early work conveyed. Nonetheless, Maybe That’s Why We Lost is an album anyone can connect with. It’s immediately capturing, only letting go once the entire body of work strikes it’s final note. I know I’ll listen to it more as the future goes on.
Be sure to check out and listen to his album at his website: http://jamesparenti.bandcamp.com/
You can stream the entire album here: