SLOW BURN – 2022
Award-winning singer songwriter and touring artist Mel Parsons unveils her new album SLOW BURN.
ROLLING STONE ✩✩✩✩
Stacked harmonies, melancholic strings and soaring hook-laden guitars amplify Parsons’ signature indie-folk sound, fitting seamlessly alongside the Lyttelton-based artist’s back catalogue. Produced in Ōtautahi Christchurch at LOHO by Josh Logan, the new record showcases Parsons’ trademark smoky vocals and lyrical prowess, set against an epic sonic backdrop led by multi-instrumentalist Logan. Logan features on guitars, piano and backing vocals, alongside Parsons’ cousin Jed Parsons on drums and backing vocals, and Aaron Stewart on bass.
“The band came in fresh without having heard any of the songs,” says Parsons. “I think it gave the sessions a vital energy – it’s quite a different thing compared with recording songs that have been toured a lot prior to hitting the studio.”
SLOW BURN follows Parsons’ critically acclaimed fourth album GLASS HEART, which was produced by legendary LA-based Mitchell Froom. GLASS HEART saw Parsons win the coveted Best Folk Artist at the 2020 AMAs, was a finalist for the 2019 Taite Music Prize and Top 20 finalist at 2019’s APRA Silver Scroll Award.
The success of ‘Glass Heart’ followed a string of accolades for Parsons, whose debut album ‘Over My Shoulder’ and her sophomore album ‘Red Grey Blue’ were both finalists for Folk Album of the Year (in 2009 and 2011, respectively). This is all in addition to her 2015 released album ‘Drylands’, which spent 51 weeks in the IMNZ Album charts and won the Tui Award for Best Engineer in the same year. The full-time touring artist also garnered a Silver Scroll finalist nod for ‘Get Out Alive’ in 2015 and the 2016 NZCMA Best Song for ‘Alberta Sun’.
GLASS HEART – 2018
Written across continents, Parsons started writing her award-winning fourth studio album ‘Glass Heart’ in late 2017. Lyttelton, NZ was the starting point for the writing process, and the last track was finished in Los Angeles, via writing stints in far flung corners of North America – a cabin in a remote area of Washington State; rural Ohio; various locations throughout the Midwest and the far Eastern reaches of Canada’s maritime province Prince Edward Island.
“It hard to say whether the travelling really colours what I write, but I guess as a writer you are always observing and soaking in ideas wherever you go, so in that respect the travel may have influenced it. But essentially I still write what I write. Touring is kind of the same wherever you are in the world – a lot of airports, a lot of driving, setups, pack-downs. A green room is a green room whether you’re in Toronto or Wellington…”
Parsons seldom writes on the road but says of ‘Glass Heart’: “It was a particularly fertile writing period… songs were falling out all over the place, and I have learnt over the years that when that feeling of inspiration comes knocking you really have to drop everything and get that shit down.”
With a punishing solo tour schedule across North America, Parsons wasn’t literally able to drop everything, but suffering chronic insomnia on the road turned out to be a blessing in disguise, meaning that for once she was able to write while on tour.
The record is an extension of Parsons’ previous work, while still retaining her trademark poignant storytelling. Parsons takes on a with bigger and fuller sound with a darker vibe under the guidance of legendary American producer Mitchell Froom (Crowded House, Suzanne Vega, Elvis Costello, Missy Higgins, Randy Newman, Lindsay Buckingham/Christine McVie) and a talented cast of musicians. They include bass player Kaveh Rastegar (John Legend, Sia), guitarist Adam Levy (Norah Jones), drummer Ted Poor (Andrew Bird) alongside Froom on keyboards.
“I had been wanting to work with Mitchell for a few years, so when our schedules finally aligned things happened pretty quickly,” says Parsons. “Mitchell and I had first been in touch back about working together back in 2015, but I’ve admired his work for a long time – he has produced some of my favourite albums.”
“You hear about how amazing these people are – and obviously by reputation you know that they’re operating at a really high level – but it wasn’t until we started working on the songs and got into the studio that I experienced Mitchell’s quiet genius firsthand.”
Parsons is no stranger to the limelight herself – the full-time touring artist garnered a Silver Scroll finalist nod for ‘Get Out Alive’ in 2015, won the 2016 NZCMA Best Song for ‘Alberta Sun’ and the VNZMA for Best Engineer for the ‘Drylands’ record. Both her debut album ‘Over My Shoulder’ (2009) and sophomore offering ‘Red Grey Blue’ (2011) were also VNZMA finalists for Folk Album of the Year. Parsons is also a cast member of Kiwi musical supergroup ‘Fly My Pretties‘, with sell out tours and festival performances throughout Australasia.
- The Sunday Star Times