CD REVIEW: Abbey Parks - The Homeplace
By Levi Canfield
Artist: Abby Parks
Technical Grade: 8/10
Strengths: Instrumentation, Songwriting craft, Lyrical Content
Weakness: Mixing Quality
Abby Parks brings her classical guitar training and devotion to god full forth on her latest album, “The Homeplace”. Blending Americana, Folk, and Country together to create a collection of 11 songs that spans just under the 50 minute mark. With her love of music starting early, Abby grew up fixated with music and singing. From there her passions lead to poems and short stories, in the end, creating the singer/songwriter you hear today. Coming out of Alabama, Abby Parks stands alone as the main component for this album. Only on her sophomore CD, Abby Parks has made sure to hone her talent before putting it to disc. Her sharp eye for beautiful folk is highlighted through out the entire album “Homeplace”.
The training that Abby Parks received as a child shows through out the album. The harmonies over the entire disc are beautiful. Her voice shines through every track on the album, delicately phrasing sweet tales of Americana. Even though sounding dated, that same characteristic helps make “The Homeplace”, that much special. Revitalizing vague memories of old 70s folk, that played at my grandparents house during my childhood. The touching nostalgia makes this album feel more personal. Many of the tracks deal with heartache or loss, such as the beautiful “Your Chantily” or touching “Observer”. During the more hopeful songs, such as the self titled track, Abby’s crafty songwriting talent tell a vivid tale of “hot summer nights” remembered during youthful times. Every song is filled with rich imagery that evokes the listeners emotions with its charming wordplay. As a folk singer, Abby Parks succeeds in conveying her message without the meaning getting lost in the lyrics.
The singer/songwriter, is a tough profession to keep original and fresh without sounding similar after awhile. This album does an effective job at it, but not superb. All the songs by the end, seem to flow and mesh on the first few listens. With such a big palette to pick from, and the technical talent behind Abby Parks, this album doesn’t push enough boundaries. Rather than sounding like a new album, it feels more like a continuation from the last. Tightening and honing the sound from before, it also doesn’t attempt many new takes on the genre. A genre which in and of itself feels more at place in a church choir, than on the popular radio station. Abby’s commercial potential to hit audiences other than the Christian group feel limited.
This would not be an album you would introduce someone to the folk genre with. Even though it is a quality release in an era where honest country folk is scarce, it also doesn’t manage to shove out the relics of the past. Abby Parks does a very talented job of paying her respects to artists like Shawn Colvin, while still sounding original. The cd lacks much of a background band or high production. The honest approach feels even more at home and innocent giving the cd its own genuine quality of feeling like a new gem from a lost era. Unfortunately, there was a reason why the art of folk feel out of popular style. The lack of pop sensibility has no place in Abby’s classical world, and in a depressing way, she doesn’t have much of a place in the commercial market.
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