New generation of Texan singer songwriter delivers debut album that suggests promise for the future.
Parker Twomey is a graduate of the Booker T Washington School for the Performing Arts who, in 2019, at just eighteen years old joined Paul Cauthen’s band supplying keyboards and guitar for their tour across the U.S. and Europe. That opportunity and experience, along with working with Vincent Neil Emerson, must surely have been invaluable for Twomey, introducing him to the key people that would enable him to enter the studio and record his own material. People like Mark Pence, former drummer for the likes of Jason Isbell and Justin Townes Earle and owner of The Echo Lab Studio in Denton, Texas, and Beau Bedford, keyboard player with TX Gentlemen, who together have co- produced Twomey’s debut album, ‘All This Life’.
The album opens with the title track, where Twomey’s captivating guitar work underpins some haunting harmonica playing before the opening lines, “If you want to get to know me you should stay for a while”, offering the listener what appears to be both an invitation and warning. This introspective introduction suggests a wisdom that bellies his twenty-one years, asking us to, “dive deep into my eyes and help me find that smile, hell I hardly ever use it anymore”, inhabiting a lyrical landscape immediately reminiscent of Isbell, subtlety drawing you in, accompanied by a restlessness and constant hint of menace. The restless theme continues on the following track, ‘Counting Down The Days’, but here with a more intense beat and heavier arrangement that helps drive the urgency in Twomey’s voice. Next is, ‘I’d Be Your Man’, the lead single, with a shift to a more commercial feel, where the previous lyrical depth makes way for a greater emphasis on pop sensibilities. This change in direction becomes more prevalent as the album continues and the poetic maturity and expressive approach of the opening track is replaced with what at times feels like a more simplistic youthful naivety. There are still plenty of high points during the remaining numbers, in particular, ‘Till The Morning Comes’, and, ‘Lines Of Wilderness’, which both show glimpses of the potential that Twomey has to offer, but frustratingly the subject matter to often relies on well worn cliches or runs into a lyrical cul-de-sac, lacking in storytelling cohesiveness, while the accompanying arrangements occasionally sound at odds with the presumed musical direction.
In truth, ‘All This Life’, never fully delivers on the promise of the opening, title track, and therefore could be argued that Twomey would have been better advised to wait until he had more material of this standard before entering the recording studio. However it would be somewhat harsh to judge the album purely on that bases as Twomey clearly possesses a poets heart with a need to explore the everyday struggles and challenges of love and loss, to which there is enough evidence here to suggest a great album is within his compass. Part of his problem is that the Texas singer songwriter division is already a congested field that is well mined and usually best delivered through old scars that are generally earned with the passing of time and experience, rather than the energy of youth that at times here sounds a little to forced, and contrived. It could be argued that, ‘All This Life’, is an album of self discovery, a coming of age journey, in which case there are still many miles to travel, but it is certainly an album that highlights Twomey’s potential and I look forward to following his progress and strongly believe the best is still to come.