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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

CD Review: Patrick Park: “Love Like Swords”

The first time I popped in Patrick Park's new disc, Love Like Swords, I was taking care of stuff in my apartment, and suddenly I was like, “Hey, am I hearing banjo?” I love that instrument, and it was used in an interesting way, and I thought, “Boy, this guy has assembled a good band for this release.” Then I took a look at the CD case, and saw right away that the majority of the instruments (including banjo) were performed by Patrick Park himself. On this release he plays electric guitar, acoustic guitar, twelve-string guitar, bass, piano, organ, viola, cello, banjo and percussion (basically everything but drums). Of course, that would all be one were not the music excellent. But on top of his talent on so many instruments, Patrick Park can write some damn good songs. Each of these songs has lines that stand out for me, like these from the title track: “But we’ll gather up our hearts/And we’ll wear our love like swords/And build our world, and build our world/I can hear your drum beating sweet and low/With the tide that pulls me in and never lets me go.” And the vocals are to the fore in these tracks, as they should be.

By the way, the liner notes unfold to a small poster of the album’s cover (while on the other side are the lyrics, something that is always appreciated).

“Deep In The Wildness,” the CD’s opening track, kind of sneaks up on you, and then suddenly comes on with a very good groove. I immediately dig this song. Patrick Park delivers a sweet and emotional vocal performance. It also helps that the song boasts some good lyrics, such as these lines: “Fast as an arrow and still as a stone/I turned from my old life/A long time ago/’Cause there’s no distance greater/Than the ones we build inside.” Those are some good lines, but I think it’s the groove that makes me really love this tune.


“I Remember” is the song that really caught my attention the first time through, with its use of banjo.  I love the mix of folk and pop elements. And Patrick Park’s vocal performance has soaring moments of beauty. This song has a great overall vibe, and is one of my favorites. This one too features some excellent lyrics, such as these lines: “And even when mountains fell around us/We were calm inside.” And he sings, “But it won’t be long now until it’s uncovered/That we are nothing without one another.”

“My Holding Hand Is Empty” is more in the folk realm, with acoustic guitar and vocals. The vocals are so sweet, so intimate. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “My holding hand is empty and my reservations few/I’ve been looking everywhere for something/I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” This one struck me the first time I put on the album, and my appreciation for it has only increased each time I’ve listened to it. This is my favorite track of the album. It is so beautiful. It has wonderful lyrics, and excellent vocals. As much as I love the vocals, it might actually be the short instrumental section that I love most.

“Dust And Mud” has a steady march on the drums (that’s Luke Adams on drums), with the electric guitar playing over it. And then Patrick’s vocals flow and rise sweetly from this. “In the time it’d take to draw all the anger from our blood/All the world would turn to dust and mud/So we rage and light the fuse just to watch it all go up/While the darkness grows wild in us.” Great lyrics, right? And this is one of the tracks that feature Jordon Katz on trumpet and flugelhorn, and his presence gives the tune a brighter, more exciting vibe. This is another track that I enjoy more and more each time I listen to the album.

One of the most interesting tracks for me is “The Envy Of Wolves,” particularly the way the percussion acts in this song, with a kind of raw energy and style, with the beauty of the vocals running smoothly over it. (Matt Mayhall is on percussion on this track.) In addition, the guitar has some jazzy elements at moments. And this is another track to feature Jordon Katz on trumpet and flugelhorn. It’s an interesting combination of sounds. “But all through the night/Though we dream in time/Of all we’ve lost along the way/I will think of those time when troubles were few/I will think of those times when I think of you.”

“Before We Are Lost” is another track that stands out for me, mainly for the vocals and lyrics. But there is also something about its rhythm that appeals to me, like a quickened pulse, with a great sense of movement. It’s a pulse you get caught up in. But again, there are some great lyrics, like this excellent line: “Aren’t you tired of waking up to someone else’s life?

The album concludes with “If There’s A Reason,” a song with a more relaxed, easy-going vibe. At first, there is almost a playful feel to its rhythm, but then with bright tones to the vocals rising to points of beauty. "Cold as a cinder and burning like the winter/Our sadness seems it's made to last/But turning in our veins in the deepest water/This present is becoming past." Jordon Katz plays trumpet and flugelhorn on this track.

CD Track List
  1. Deep In This Wilderness
  2. I Remember
  3. Love Like Swords
  4. My Holding Hand Is Empty
  5. Down In The Blackness
  6. Dust And Mud
  7. Let’s Go
  8. The Envy Of Wolves
  9. How I’ve Longed
  10. Before We Are Lost
  11. If There’s A Reason 
Love Like Swords was released on May 13, 2014 through Downward Road Recordings and Cobraside.

(Note: I also posted this review on Michael Doherty's Music Log.)

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