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Graham Parker

Your Country – 2004 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Graham Parker

Graham Parker's three-decade career as a British white soul pub rocker and an acid-tongued lyricist is fairly unassailable; his best albums are rock classics and even his weakest albums sparkle with a few flawless gems. Parker's penchant for bitter songs of bent and broken love and his recent nods to twangy accompaniment make the appearance of the singer/songwriter's first attempt at a purely country album, something less than a surprise.

Of course, with rock and soul talents as deep-seated as Parker's, it's hard to keep them from shining through, even when he obscures them slightly with pedal steel and loping beat (the pub shaking "Queen of Compromise" and "Tornado Alley").

That's not to say that Parker misses the mark as a country artist, because he clearly understands the form and successfully adapts his style to the genre's distinct traditions and subject matter (the twang and swing of "Anything for a Laugh" and "The Rest is History," and his duet with Lucinda Williams on "Cruel Lips").

On the other hand, Parker's hillbilly reading of his own "Crawling from the Wreckage" is as much Bob Dylan folk/rock as it is country, and his razor sharp powers of observation are always at the ready (the withering "Nation of Shopkeepers"). Parker's dual creative nature on "Your Country" is cleverly billboarded in the album's title; it is the Briton's acknowledgment of both the genre and its place of origin, merely another example of the layered interpretations that accompany every great Graham Parker album.