What Goes Around
Marlene Palumbo ~ Indienink Music Stephen Parker returns in a big way with his new solo CD 'What Goes Around' and we finally get to see the maturation and culmination of all his talents displayed. Written, arranged and produced by Stephen Parker, this CD is indeed a bit of a departure from the folk/country/rock vein as he continues on his creative evolutionary arc. Stepping away, he has almost managed to create a new genre of music, combining elements of classic jazz with elegant pop sensibilities, adding in blues and layering in infectious bossa nova rhythms which creates a special blend of ear candy, bringing to mind the work of Steely Dan, Bruce Horsnsby and even Pat Metheny at times. This CD also finally reveals the essence of Stephen's vocal talents, smooth, self assured and supremely confident. Jesse Lundy - guitarist/producer/promoter Point Entertainment Anyone expecting more in the Americana vein from Stephen Parker is in for a surprise; "What Goes Around" is the lovechild of Mark Knopfler and his Steely Dan after a passionate, samba-filled tropical vacation. Good? I'm surprised, man! This isn't what I would have expected in a million years! Bruce Brodeen - drummer/owner NOT LAME RECORDINGS Fort Collins, CO Often music fans find releases that do homage the classic sounds of the 60s and 70s - makes sense, doesn't it? The meaningful, lasting archetypes of the young 'rock' genre were developed then, mastered and their promise fulfilled for future generations. Most bands mine the obvious - The Beatles, The Who, The Byrds - on and on the list can and does go. We don't find many who probe into the softer side of the sounds of, say, the 70s. On 'What Goes Around', a soft-rock delight, the 5 song EP delights in the challenge of creating sounds of another time but a place that should be visited more often. Lead off track, 'Hate To See The Summer Leave' assays the difficult task of giving homage to Steely Dan - and succeeds. Try that, you bedroom guitar players! Others like 'Naples Sonata' explore the soft-jazzy feel of George Benson's late 70s work and 'Tabula Rasa' recalls Michael Franks. 'What Goes Around' reminds me of one of my favorite late 70s acoustic-rock bands, Pousette-Dart Band - these are sounds that are every bit as classic as our fave hard-rock brethren but, for whatever reasons, musicians don't take up. Stephen Parker takes on the challenge and delivers on all fronts. M.C. Rydel, Creative Director, IMRadio You simply have to hear the new CD, "What Goes Around" from Stephen Parker. He is first and foremost an effortless poet and these songs combine some of the best elements of pop/jazz, folk and rock to make truly memorable music. Tunes like "Hyaleah" and "Hate to See the Summer Leave" have great lyrics and perfect harmonies, and they feature a subtle use of congas and flutes. The title song, "What Goes Around" really hits the mark, and in "Tabula Rasa" the piano and sax give the song an edge that perfectly complements Stephen's lyrics. Looking for killer hooks that stick in your ear? Then check this CD out and you will find all this great new music at IMRadio Mike Wilson - guitarist/producer/engineer - Producer of 1st Stephen Parker LP "Cheyenne Autumn" in 1978 Having been involved with Stephen Parker as a solo artist before he formed his 1st band back in 1978, when I heard the new release "What Goes Around' I was delightfully amazed at what I was listening to. New instrumentation and these new musical flavorings ... His music was excellent at it's birth in the late 70s and wore very well as it grew up through the 80s and 90s and even into the new millennium. Stephen has shifted gears in a way that speaks of a re-birth, just at the right time. There are some things however, that cannot be hidden in Stephen Parker's music, namely, great melodies and an awesome voice that springs from the gods of music. I bit hard and fell in love with his songs and voice when I produced his first LP "Cheyenne Autumn" in 1978, and proceeded to be dazzled by his later works. I still believe that one of the top ten songs ever written by anyone is 'Fool's Gold'. I then went into hiding for a mere 25 years, always listening to Stephen Parker music, on my eight-track player, cassette player, then my CD player, and finally he's all over my iPod! I shared his music with everyone, my friends, my kids, everyone! You get the point, his music stands that most difficult of musical tests...the test of Time! The new CD is sometimes sweet, sometime cool, sometimes jazzy, but it always has those two Stephen Parker classic elements...great melodies and an awesome voice. He's stretching once again, and it was worth waiting 30 years for this batch of beauties. John Barclay - guitarist/professional freelance photographer On his new disc 'What Goes Around' Stephen Parker takes his folk/country/rock sound and infuses it with jazz hooks, blues rifs and bossa nova rhythms. The opening cut 'Hate to See Summer Leave' kicks off with a guitar riff that will instantly remind you of the smooth stylings of Steely Dan layered with Stephen's silky smooth vocals. A wonderful place to start! Hyaleah is clearly influenced by Dan Fogelberg with it's lovely flute lines floating throughout the tune. On 'Naples Sonata' we are introduced to the bossa nova Stephen Parker Style! This is a terrific tune that transports you right to Naples with a 'slice of brie' thinking about the 'eye candy' he must be remembering that inspired the tune! 'What Goes Around' the title cut has it all, pop guitar hooks reminiscent of the Eagles but at the same time has a style all it's own. He has successfully crafted an engaging new sound where we can hear evidence of his influences but bask in it's own unique and satisfying grooves! 'What Goes Around' is a delightful disc filled with ear candy that that is and will be in my rotation for years to come. Highly recommended! Pete Vash - guitarist/engineer/producer solar engineer hey, you've done a great job with "What Goes Around"...excellent production and performances...I totally dig the sax on Tabula Rasa....I think I hear some Buffalo Springfield sensibilities throughout the project...nice...they were true pioneers...all the best with the repro and packaging...I'm still making my way through Joined in Progress"...I think most of my gigging days are behind me for now as I focus on solar engineering...but I still have a few more shows in me no doubt...take care and all the best Stephen,...give me a heads up when you take your show on the road... Ira Norman Segall - drummer/percussionist/audiophile engineer & producer Owner of Unipheye Music, LLC Unipheyemusic.com - unique fidelity, extraordinary music irvingsegall.com - 31 season Philadelphia Orchestra Member and a founder of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians The privilege of writing reviews is when you get to review a work that you truly look forward to hearing. To watch, from a distance, an artist truly grow; actually explore new spaces and have the courage to re-look at their own creative voice and what they really have to say is a gift. Thus, the new Stephen Parker album, "What Goes Around", is truly that sort of rare experience for me. It proudly broadcasts the results of that excavation process. Stephen Parker has always been a tremendous wordsmith. His lyrics telegraph experience - more than mere storytelling for songwriting's sake. They bespeak, at the same time, his pain, as well as the beauty that surrounds him. Musically, a transition from acoustic to electric guitar, as well as an exploration of finger-picking has opened up a universe for Stephen, both as a player and as a composer. In this incarnation of the band, it has allowed him to surround himself with a caliber of musicians, that together as an ensemble, are subtle, nimble, flowing, expressive and articulate and allow Stephen to take full flight. There's a sense of new freedom and expression. Part of Stephen's brilliance is his arranging sensibility. He voices the band, setting textures and layers that are just extraordinary, allowing their individual expression to have space; a sense of air and openness. "What Goes Around" expresses the actual joy of Stephen Parker finding new and different creative spaces as an artist, something that is rare for a player/composer. We experience it with him as he shares it with us in each track of "What Goes Around". The sound quality of the record is wonderful. His transformative musical experience has migrated over to Stephen as producer. The instruments sound as free and natural as the compositions. From the Spanish-stylings on nylon-stringed acoustic guitar in "Hyaleah" to the woodwind in "Tabula Rasa" and the acoustic piano and flute on "Naples Sonata", the sound is clean, organic and open. The right choice of microphones and use of acoustic space has created beautiful sound as well as a seamless integration of music and lyric. This record conveys a freedom, an openness. "What Goes Around" is yet another outstanding record from Stephen Parker. Go out and buy yourself 300 copies of it right now. Edward J. Harpham Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Collegium V Honors Program at The University of Texas at Dallas. The author of numerous academic books and articles, Harpham directs a "guitar workshop through the Honors Program that explores various facets of popular music" In his new release, Stephen Parker offers us a gentle reminder of how good popular music can be when carefully crafted and thoughtfully performed. Comprised of five songs running about 26 minutes, "What Goes Around" takes listeners on a journey of emotion and thoughtful reflection that is rare in contemporary popular music. In the first cut, Hate to See the Summer Leave, Parker sings a lament that we all have felt at one time or another. If we just tried hard enough, could we coax the summer to stay around a little longer? We all know the answer: The autumn is coming; the world is changing. But how do you evoke these feelings in song? Skillfully using two guitars talking back and forth to one another in the background, Parker's sense of vocal timing captures perfectly the uncertainty we face at such transitions. He leaves us with a sense that something will be lost once the summer is gone and that an unknown lurks in the future. When Parker sings "streaked... and stained," and pauses for effect, the listener knows there is danger on the horizon. Hyaleah introduces a new mood and provides a nice balance to the first cut. Upbeat and optimistic, this song announces the ever-present possibility of new relationships in one's life. The driving force behind Parker's vocals here is a background guitar, lifted up by a delightful flute and rhythm section. When Parker asks "Open up your garden gate, Hyaleah. Please. Won't you pull me through?" we are left hoping and believing that the answer to his query is a resounding "Yes!" The third cut, Naples Sonata, opens with a soft blend of keyboard, flute and rhythm guitar reminiscent of Joni Mitchell's early excursions into jazz. There is tenderness in the melodies that Parker spins out from one verse to another. This enables him to explore the psychological tensions of "people watching." Naples Sonata uncovers how the commonplace contains a world of romance and wistful excitement. Are we, Parker sings, wasting precious time when we watch the people around us and wonder what they are all about? I think not. And the feeling we are left with as the songs fades away confirms my suspicion. The mood picks up again with What Goes Around. The jazz rhythms of earlier cuts are replaced with a pop beat that joyfully explores the trails and trials of love. This is a foot-tapping song that invites the listener to join in and explore the foibles of love in it's many phases. The final cut, Tabula Rosa, returns to the gentle jazzy rhythms of Hate to See the Summer Leave. But the mood now explored is new. A sense of uncertainty about the past or the future is no longer the focus of attention. Rather we find a soulful recognition of mistakes made and love lost. If only the slate could be wiped clean, Parker sings. But he knows it can't. Guitars have been replaced by a sax and keyboard that speak to one another throughout the song. Parker's vocals have never been clearer or crisper as we, too, are left wondering why things go wrong sometimes. While the questions that Parker explores are sad, the music is marvelous and the listener doesn't want it to end. So much of contemporary music is harsh and angry. Lyrics are often banal and the melodies easy to forget. Stephen Parker reminds us that popular music can be joyful and thoughtful at the same time. All we need to do is give the musician a chance to deliver. Give Parker a chance. Highly Recommended.