happens when an English guitarist/producer/collaborator heads to Italy
with his family to produce records for Italian artists? Apparently he
jams with local musicians, getting comfortable enough with them to
record together as a band, as did John Parish for his third solo
full-length, Once Upon a Little Time.
Unlike 2002’s How Animals Move, which Parish recorded over four years with an oft-changing lineup of friends in between other projects, Once Upon a Little Time is
the work of a functioning band with a stable lineup recorded over a few
months. The approaches are remarkably different, but Parish’s deft song
writing and fusing of jams and grooves into breathtaking sweeps of
music is still evident. But here’s the surprise: Parish graces us with
his voice on Once Upon a Little Time, taking the lead
vocals on all the non-instrumental tracks. You can’t really call what
he does singing, per se, but his flat yet expressive voice complements
the music well.
“Even Redder Than That” (and its reprise near the end of the record) we
get two chances to attend a hoedown that gives Neil Michael Hagerty’s
Howling Hex a run for its money. This song is a total down-home country
ripper pluck fest. “Sea Defences” is a bit more rocking, with an almost
countrified “My Sharona” feel to it, except for Parish’s flat vocals.
It would be at home at a truck-stop hoedown in the Midwest somewhere.
is having fun on this album, and the musicians he’s bonded with enjoy
the ride as well. How else can we explain these countrified wig-outs?
The stark insinuating gorgeousness of complex simplicity of “Glade
Park” and “The Last Thing I Heard Her Say” do recall How Animals Move, and “Salo” and “Stranded” recall the frigid frailty of 2000’s Rosie. This album further demonstrates that Parish is a gifted songwriter who is not afraid to mix it up.