Graham Parker at the height of his powers, with Squeezing Out Sparks, Alive Alone in America, and The Mona Lisa’s Smile, among others, created incisive, sharp, melodic rock ‘n’ roll with heartfelt, mature lyrics.
Then he took a sideways turn into country, in addition to seeming to lose his chops when it came to writing those seamless melodies and hooks. But, in 2005, he returned to form with the wonderful, rock-solid Songs of No Consequences. It was seamless, it was tough, and it was often funny.
His latest, Don’t Tell Columbus, might be even better than Songs of No Consequences. Again, the music seems seamless, with great melodies–and even though it doesn’t rock as hard as Songs, it makes up for it with some great alt-country tendencies. But it’s in the lyrics that Parker feels fully returned to me, because they’re incisive, witty, and sometimes devastating. Favorites include the title track, “England’s Latest Clown,” “Suspension Bridge,” and “Bullet of Redemption”. From beginning to end the CD sounds comfortable, lived-in, and yet very sharp.