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Intimate and magical third and final part in the extraordinary series of EPs that American singer-songwriter Kat Parsons has released during the last year
‘It Matters to Me’ is the third and final part in the extraordinary series of mini-albums/EPs that the American singer-songwriter Kat Parsons has released during the last year.
Each EP has a different slant and focus. The first EP ‘Talk to Me’, which came out in April of last year, had Parsons reflecting on the way life is and the way she wanted it to be, while the second ‘Oh!’, which was released in October, consisted of her first ever set of “happy” songs. ‘It Matters to Me’ could be seen as a natural extension of the themes of both of those earlier EPs, being, as Parsons has explained on her website, “born out of conversations with friends and fans about wanting to lead a meaningful life –even what a ‘meaningful life’ really is...and of that striving to get my youthful dreams of saving the world in line with my adult understanding of limitations – my own and others.”
In tone also ‘It Matters to Me’ is different to the other EPs. While those initial two EPs were both up-tempo in sound, mixing together glittering pop tunes with soaring ballads, ‘It Matters to Me’ is at the same time both Parsons’ most lush and also most spare release to date.
On it, it finds Parsons, who is a pianist and a guitar player, using a strings section – a violin, viola and cello - and a French horn for the first time in her recording career. The tone of the record is, however, stripped down and minimal, each instrument having its own space on the record rather than being pushed together in a mass, and it is Parsons‘ voice thrust up close against the microphone that is the dominant factor. With two albums, ‘Framing Caroline’ (1999) and ‘No Will Power’ (2005), as well as the two EPs also behind her, ‘It Matters to Me’ is the most intimate of all her recordings to date.
It opens with ‘I’ll Be Here’, a softly shimmering number of slowly building chords in which Parsons reflects on a long lost early love, who although gone from her for years and whom she is not sure she would even recognise now she has never quite shaken off the ghost of. “If darkness comes around/ If all you counted on was gone/Then I’ll be here,” she sings in the chorus.
The title track, the most strident song on the five-song EP, builds on that feeling of empathy, but this time on a grander, more worldly scale (“When the skies are dark and you can’t find your way/searching for a spark or a reason to stay/It matters to me”).
‘I Won’t Ask’ is a sparse piano-and-strings number, co-composed by Parsons with her mother Julie, a former recording artist, about knowing when to walk away from a broken relationship (“I will do what is right/I will let you go/and I will be the only one to know”). ‘Harder than It Is’ is in contrast a yearning country ballad in which she tries to stop a friend going any further down the highway of self-destruction (“You don’t have to pay to get saved/So baby have a little faith in yourself”).
The EP is closed with ‘One Day’, one of the finest songs that Kat Parsons has ever recorded. It starts simply with brief chimes and a solitary, bare guitar line, before the strings kick in and swell briefly, majestically upwards before fading away again. It finds her on an edge between absolute heartbreak and also looking with defiant optimism at the future. “One day my love will come/And I will be glad that you let me go,” she whispers at her departing lover, and in the final line, “Even if my heart breaks/There are no mistakes in love.” Fifty years beforehand this is a song that is strong enough that Judy Garland could have recorded.
Kat Parsons has recently gone where her heart is and temporarily left Los Angeles where she has been based for the last decade to enrol in Washington DC in a fellowship program on anti-human trafficking, which has long been a concern of hers. There may, therefore, be another lengthy gap before there are any more recordings from her. In the meantime, however, she has left us with these songs which are absolutely magical.
I'll Be Here
It Matters to Me
I Won't Ask
Harder Than It Is