Joyann Parker “Out of the Dark”

Hopeless Romantic Records, 2021

Parker’s love of the blues is evident and her talent deserves a much bigger spotlight.

Joyann Parker’s second album ‘Out of the Dark’ is a standout calling card showcasing her songwriting talents, strong vocals, and a great rhythm and blues backing band.  Parker is a Minneapolis-based classically trained pianist who fell into love with the blues serendipitously which is good fortune for lovers of soul, blues, and well-crafted songs about relationships (good and bad).  The songs she has written call out to be played loudly and would equally suit a dingy, smoke-filled bar or a bigger stage on a sunny day at a music festival.  The music is both a tribute to the Stax/Motown sound and a declaration of her own intent to bring her own personality and character to the songs she has co-written with Mark Lamoine (guitarist).   Parker co-produced the album with Lamoine and Kevin Bowe (who has worked with everyone from Lucinda Willams to Etta James to Bruce Springsteen).  The music production on ‘Out of the Dark’ allow spaces for Parker to create songs that are emotionally genuine and hopeful in nature.

The opening song ‘Gone so Long’ sets the mood for the album with a country-blues song that could be about losing your way in life using a pedal steel guitar to underline the journey of the person she is singing about.  Parker has noted previously that the songs are not necessarily autobiographical but her songwriting allows her to inhabit the people and situations she introduces throughout the album.  ‘Carry On’ follows on with a gospel-influenced hopeful song that uses her strengths as a singer who has spent time in church choirs with its spiritual message building towards its conclusion.

Repeated listens are rewarded with catchy guitar licks hooking you into her narratives across a variety of musical styles (from Memphis to New Orleans to Motown).  Parker’s song ‘Come on Baby (Take Me Dancing)’ is a fun song that sounds like a cross between Sam Cooke and the Mavericks ‘Dance the Night Away’ proclaiming the simple joy of her music and the fun to be had on a dancefloor.  The music is full of intent and moves the listener along like “Fool for You” which at times sounds like it will break into a spy theme moving the song along as Parker sings about poor relationship choices.   ‘Out of the Dark’s title track is a redemptive ballad about looking to escape a situation that is unhealthy and moving towards release – “Take all you’ve been gifted. Go be who you were meant to be.” The message of sharing your talents with the world can be found across this album as Parker seems to have done just this.

7/10
7/10

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