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Arlo Parks - Collapsed in Sunbeams

  by Zena Grieg

published: 8 / 3 / 2021

Arlo Parks - Collapsed in Sunbeams
Label: Transgressive Records
Format: CD


Inspirational debut album whose influences include Sylvia Plath from London musician and poet, Arlo Parks

The first album by Arlo Parks, singer Anais Marinho, marks a debut of note. Parks, the London musician and poet shortlisted as BBC Sound of 2020, included in the Radio 1 Brit and Dazed 100 Lists, cites her interest in song-writing and poetry from the time a teacher at Latymer Upper School gave her a copy of ‘Ariel’ by Sylvia Plath. Having fallen in love with Plath’s work, Parks started to write her own poetry before making music by setting her spoken-word rhymes to home-made beats. On her debut collection Parks said: “My album is a series of vignettes and intimate portraits surrounding my adolescence and the people that shaped it. It is rooted in storytelling and nostalgia – I want it to feel both universal and hyper specific.” References to artists who influenced her pervade the collection, including on ‘Black Dog’: “You do your eyes like Robert Smith”; and on ‘Eugene’: “You read him Sylvia Plath/I thought that was our thing.” Drawing on indie pop with a dash of jazz and soul, the twelve tracks, all co-written with Gianluca Buccelati, who also produced, showcase Parks’ gentle, mellifluous vocals against a backdrop of subtle instrumentals, Parks’ empathic, sensitive lyrics exploring a range of human experience with insight and compassion. The album opens with the title track, a spoken-word piece encapsulating and setting the scene about finding beauty in pain and embracing emotion: “We’re all learning to trust our bodies/Making peace with our own distortions/You shouldn’t be afraid to cry in front of me.” Highlights of this multifaceted collection include ‘Hurt’ about a friend with an alcohol problem and its quiet, gentle reassurance: “I know you can’t let go, of anything at the moment/Just know it won’t hurt so/Won’t hurt so much forever”; ‘Black Dog’, a painfully honest confrontation with a friend’s depression: “Sometimes it seems like you won’t survive this/And honestly it’s terrifying”; ‘Hope’, which Parks said was “about being present in your pain and knowing that you’re not the only one on the planet feeling low… I think especially in times like these it’s important to focus on the inevitability that things will get better”; and ‘Green Eyes’ on the impact of homophobia on same-sex couples – “So I know why we lasted two months/Could not hold my hand in public/Felt their eyes judgin’ our love and beggin’ for blood” – and its defiant exhortation to be authentic: “But you gotta trust how you feel inside/And shine, and shine.” “I’m always making rainbows out of something painful/Getting fried as hell/’n dodging gravestones” Parks sings on the R&B infused closing track ‘Portra 400’ bringing the album to full enthralling circle. An inspirational debut album sparkling with promise, ‘Collapsed in Sunbeams’ will be performed by Parks across the UK in the summer, coronavirus permitting.

Track Listing:-
1 Collapsed In Sunbeams
2 Hurt
3 Too Good
4 Hope
5 Caroline
6 Black Dog
7 Green Eyes
8 Just Go
9 For Violet
10 Eugene
11 Bluish
12 Portra 400

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