Johnny Parry - Songs Without Purpose
This is brooding, carnival-esque piano music that is as brilliant as it is slightly disturbed. Johnny Parry makes you believe every word and sound coming from his world, a minimal grotesque place where love, hate, and Tom Waits survive, but just barely. Backed only by a rhythm section, Parry’s lyrics and keys drive this gothic mini-masterpiece. “Hotel Floor” is a belated but surging entry for best song of the year; its menace and grace are overwhelming; like most of the record, it is stark personal and strong, with just enough craziness to make you worry, but trust anyway. Strings and horns add to these meditations on death, loss, and women. Pain is all around, especially on “Little Prayer No.5,” “Sweet Nothings” and the amazing “A Love Song.” The songs here are understated, and threaten to descend into pure madness. The genius of it all is that they don’t: Parry’s persona is one of a haunted misanthrope with a bag full of dark memories, but one will linger on and on until they are all told. Yet Parry offers hope, if only in the fact that he has lived to make these jaundiced observations on how we hurt and forget one another…or don’t forget. Songs Without a Purpose are brave and weird, oddly life-affirming armor amid the squalor of often self-inflicted evil. An uncomfortable winner all around, and one of the most memorable sets in years.
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