Press Quotes

Here are some quotes from reviews of the Bleeding Edge / Distant Past Album:

“Gently woven reflective songs...laid back but alluring, Parkes weaves an unobtrusive web of superficially easy listening that’s subtly underpinned with forensic  patterns of the interpersonal and the complexities of their interpretation...”

R2 Rock ‘n’ Reel  ****

“an album which moves John Parkes another step along the way to not quite mass acceptance and arena filling status, but one which will open up some possibilities for him in widening his audience. Listen and tell!”

“A warm spirit of savouring life and its many facets infuses the new album from John Parkes...a well-crafted collection of songs”.
Yorkshire Evening Post

“A witheringly honest eye...the cohesion and thematic depth across the whole album is impressive and despite the unremittingly bleak view of humanity, the songs are, variously, stirring, uplifting and even beautiful...It’s a great album, but sorry kids, it’s for grown-ups only”

Vibrations  (also features in Vibrations best album of the year list)
...and this is such a humdinger here it is in full...from Pennyblack music -
this goes to their hompage...

Here's the review...

Reviewed By: Malcolm Carter
Label: Aaz Records
Format: CD

If my admittedly fading memory serves me well for once, I think I made a comment about Sheffield born singer-songwriter John Parkes' EP which was released a year ago maybe being a taster for a forthcoming album. Maybe I was not too far off the mark as two of the songs featured on that four tracker appear here in the same live versions, along with another eleven new (at least to these ears) Parkes' originals.

It’s been a while (put it down to a really strong year for music) since I’ve slipped that EP into the player but as soon as ‘Don’t Be Seventeen’, the title song of the EP, started (it’s the second track on this album) a warm glow engulfed this listener. It might well be a cliché, but it really was like welcoming back home an old friend. Parkes' mellow, inviting vocals are perfectly suited to songs such as this; the regret carried in his voice as the story of former lovers facing up to the fact that there is no future together is obvious. That warm glow extends to many other songs on ‘Bleeding Edge/ Distant Past…’ too.

‘Brand New Day’ opens the album with a breathtaking harmonic display before developing into a sweet but never mawkish lullaby. Parkes has proven over his previous two albums that he’s something of a master at plucking gorgeous melodies apparently out of the air with ease, but this song must rank as one of his best. It’s predominantly acoustic and is one of those songs that you immediately feel you’ve heard many times before, but at the same time you know you haven’t. It’s a remarkable opening shot and a brilliant introduction to Parkes.

‘Just for Now (Baby Song)’ which makes a showing towards the end of the album, is another song that, even more than ‘Brand New Day’, was obviously written for Parkes' as-yet-then unborn child. Again in other hands, coming from another voice, this type of song could be over sentimental but Parkes has such a way with lyrics he avoids that situation. “I hope you’ll have lovers/I hope you’ll sing songs/And I hope we’ll admit when we are wrong/ And I will go with you as far as I can/And I hope that you will stay forever young” is just but one verse where Parkes has captured the feelings of parents the world over.

The combination of Parkes' appealing vocals, the full and rounded sound he pulls from his acoustic and the warmth that producer Neil Ferguson wraps around songs such as ‘A Strange Affair’ with his keyboard skills is but part of the attraction in the songs on ‘Bleeding Edge/Distant Past…’.

Every song is also lyrically special. Parkes is one of the breed of British songwriters who can say more in one line than many do over a whole album. Parkes is up there with the likes of Ray Davies, Paul Weller and Difford and Tilbrook. He articulates in short pop songs the lives, loves and losses of the average man in the street.

‘Lincolnshire’ is particularly touching, Parkes reminiscing about the “small town girl” he’d left behind. Lines like “I thought I’d left her there like the pickles on her larder shelf just waiting there” litter the song and evoke bittersweet feelings. Parkes could only be British. His lyrics prove that time and again, and he actually makes you proud that we can still produce artists of this calibre. It’s just a shame that Parkes seems destined to have a small but loyal band of followers when this music really does deserve to be heard and appreciated by a wider audience.

We touched on the humorous side of Parkes writing with ‘My Hit Song’ when reviewing his EP and that song is the other one from that release that makes a showing here, but is not the only one where Parkes' lyrics will have you smiling. The closing song ‘Trireme ’72 (All Rowed Home)’ might well have ancient Greek rowing ships at its core, but Parkes injects his unique brand of humour into the lyrics and shows once again why John Peel and Steve Lamacq were early admirers of his work.

‘Bleeding Edge/Distant Past…’ will not sit on the shelf like Parkes year-old EP did. While these thirteen songs instantly register with the listener, there’s depth to each and every one that makes each play feel like the first one. And it’s passed the test; everyone who hears the album when it’s playing always asks, “Who is this?”, and if Parkes can grab the attention of some of those who pass by here he must be doing something right.

Here are some quotes from reviews of the Illegal Songs album:

"a second intelligent and acutely well-observed collection of tunes railing brilliantly against both the big issues and the all-important minutiae of modern day living with healthy doses of humour lobbed in to medicate".
Whisperin & Hollerin

"This is a fine album and surely one of the best folk albums I have heard in years. It is full of life. It has a variety of tempos that never make it a chore to listen to. It moves easily and has a fluidity about it all".
Pennyblack Music

"an album of acoustic gems…imagine Bob Dylan meeting Billy Bragg…on every track he writes catchy acoustic melodies and combines them with interesting lyrics to great effect".

"John Parkes has created 14 of the most fantastic, angry, funny, challenging, inspirational and biting sets of lyrics I have seen, recently or otherwise…we salute and follow eagerly with wicked grins for po-faced snarls…The very concept of 'Illegal Songs' is enough to earn this a 13 out of 13".
Room 13

“Illegal Songs serves as the perfect foil to today’s recycled pop. Addressing it all head on from religion, to terrorism, to the state, Parkes refuses to mince his words. A Bragg for the Greenday generation, Parkes will probably never be top of the charts. But he should be”.
Leeds Guide

“fourteen poetic, journeying and biting tracks… his true lyrical prowess and protest sloganeering leaps out like a viral infected mutant from ‘I Am Legend’”.
Angry Ape

"Illegal Songs is, perhaps, the album that Billy Bragg and, indeed, any politically and ethically minded musician should be making at this moment in time. Because, frankly, the world needs more albums that actually lay the blame for the terrible and sorry state that it’s in. This is precisely what John Parkes has done, and masterfully too. These are powerful, folky / indie English protest songs with zest, humour and a firm grasp of the way things are, why they are like that and, most importantly, why they shouldn’t be".

“a finely-honed set of urban British folk, only nowhere near as earnest as that sounds. Armed with just his voice and grumpy guitar, Parkes dissects the gamut of modern ills with uncomfortable, surgical precision”.
Bournemouth Echo

"full of gritty and perceptive observations…this is at times an uncomfortable, if challenging, album".

"LEEDS songwriter John Parkes is one of the music industry's best-kept secrets, and I'd go so far as to say he's the Billy Bragg of his age. Debut solo album Faithlessnessless was excellent, and this follow-up is even better, full of angry songs about the law, the government, compensation culture, and free speech".
Shields Gazette

"If anyone could personify the modern movement of singer/songwriters on a mission to relay the original sentiments of guitar folk music, then it’s John Parkes. Each bustling, nicely busked song sparkles with indie highlights and the solid, yet fluid strums that underpin Parkes’ strong but accurate vocal lines...For an album of fourteen tracks with just JP and his acoustic guitar for company, it’s remarkably listenable as well"."

...once again, he's shown that he's a true visionary songwriter. Just one glance at the tracklisting proves that you're in for a more than interesting ride - "Glorification Of Terrorism", "Incitement To Religious Hatred", "Pray For Recession" and "The Dog Ate My Song"...Intelligent, witty and high on impact, I'm beginning to wonder if there is a better songwriter doing the rounds at present. I doubt it. 9/10
Atomic Duster

"just comes across as a miserable so and so. Chill out and lighten up, John!"

Quotes from reviews of the Faithlessnessless album...

‘…a terrific record: full of wryly-observed satire, intriguing social commentary, healthy reserves of humour and the occasional sliver of unalloyed sadness….a skilled and likeably off-kilter songwriter who can wring a range of emotions out of the most unlikely subjects’
Whisperin & Hollerin

'intense as hell. The sort of thing that would have you spellbound at a quiet gig and demanding all your friends listen to him after..these lyrics shout out and pin the soul to the wall. Very very personal, they are backed by gentle picking and some good tunes.'

'An acoustic delight..Step forward, the Bard of Barking´s true heir'.

'the presence of a perfect song writer, everything just comes together so well and makes for an effortless starts off great, remains great and ends great'.
Friends of the Heros

'.a mature and convincing performance, as he mounts his acoustic high horse and uses soaring vocals to lash out at the world's wrongs and provide compelling insight.striding up alongside the earnest old guard of Bragg, Dylan and Leonard Cohen to make a convincing front line in music's battle against ignorance'.
Contact Music

'Once you get into it you'll struggle to switch it back off.. Parkes' voice is infectious, and dominates the songs. There's not much else going on other than him, his voice and his guitar. And it sounds perfect for it'.
Floatation Suite

A fistful of strong, acerbic, fearless tracks that tear at the saggy folds of the soul.. Almost Billy Braggish in the clarity and forcefulness of the lyrics.Could be a bubbler that explodes later on in 2006.
Outline Online

'The Faithlessnessless LP is twelve witty, humourous and clever little folk pop songs covering everything from teenagers on northern council estates to protesting against nuclear weapons'.
AboutTheMusic Blog

The debut Whole Sky Monitor album ‘Just Let Me Talk To Her’ released Spring 2005 featured the solo acoustic ‘Fireships’….Incidentally this track (and the album) is now available to download from itunes and all of those places...

The tautly gorgeous acoustics of “Fireships”

…Fireships is a rather pretty song.
Manchester Music

The album comes to an end with the short and sweet “Fireships” which delivers the perfect ending to a perfect piece of art
Floatation Suite

They really convince with the acoustic closing track “Fireships” which is basically just Parkes alone and vulnerable with his guitar and sounding alluringly bleak. It’s a nice way to end an album…
Whisperin & Hollerin

Perseverance is truly rewarded by closer Fireships, a starkly emotive people-as-boats metaphor, served on a bed of plain strumming. At seven seconds shy of two minutes long, it sails off leaving you longing for more…
Manchester Online

Closing down with the acoustic 'Fireships', recalling Radiohead, the album hangs just off the edge of beautiful.

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