It’s been a while since I found an album I genuinely loved. Last year brought me albums from Lissie and Joshua Radin which I really liked, but nothing that I was overly excited about. As More Than The Music’s self-appointed ‘Head of all things Australian’, I was eager to learn more about Brisbane’s Dan Parsons and his new album Firestarter.
There’s immediately something in Parsons’ song writing that reminds me of Josh Pyke. Opener Run With Me captured my attention (and heart) and for the next nine tracks I became immersed in Parsons’ clever combination of melodies and lyrics. His soft vocals and “No one knows the answer” echoed in the bridge are particularly Pyke-esque and this definitely works for his voice. He really knows how to craft a song; the title track is catchy yet not in a ‘very repetitive’ way making it a really radio friendly track. Equally enchanting is There Is Something Hiding In My Heart that genuinely wouldn’t feel out of place on Radio 1’s A List. The balance of heartache and uplifting melodies is something that Parsons excels at and it’s in this track that he embraces his rock side and brings everything together to create this masterpiece.
It’s in This City that I truly fell for Parsons’ music. The biographical lyrics had me desperate to join the voice of the song in the city and reassure him that he’d be just fine without his recently departed female companion. The similarly emotive The Conqueror gave me that lurching feeling in my stomach which I hadn’t felt from a recorded performance in a long time.
I Can’t Watch You and Back Off are also solid tracks but perhaps overshadowed by the brilliance of a few others. And as for the final track, penned about his hometown Cedar Creek, I initially wanted him to break out into Ben Folds’ You Don’t Know Me as he slowly worked his way through the four monosyllabic words but then realised the lyrics deserve the attention and little distraction from them. It’s a track that clearly yields a lot of personal meaning to Parsons and his dramatic approach to the piano accompaniment only heightens its impact.
Sometimes I worry that if I love an album too much on first listen that I’ll soon grow out of it, but I can’t recommend this album enough. Maybe I’m just a sucker for Australian musical talent, or maybe Parsons is an international star in waiting. I guess you’ll just have to give him a chance and decide for yourself.