Johnny Parry - Songs Without a Purpose EP

Johnny Parry
Songs Without a Purpose EP

Seldom as a reviewer do you receive an album from a band or artist of whom you have never heard, which then proceeds to prove itself a classic. This is what happened to me when I listened to Songs Without a Purpose.

Now, I’ll let you into a little secret, readers: The Mag’s big bosses like to send me lots of CDs to review at once. By lots, I mean 10 at a time. Frankly, it’s frightening to receive the envelope in the post. Why do I tell you this? Well, my point is this: I had this record waiting in my “to do” pile for an extremely long time, not sure when I was going to get around to it, and not keen to give it the time of day. And then… and then, I stuck it in and immediately felt pangs of regret that this album, and this artist, had not been a part of my listening spectrum earlier.

This is a classic record. Built on the hushed, foreboding rasp of Johnny Parry’s vocals, enunciating tales of regret, loss and pain, in the main, with some beautiful string and piano work and relaxed percussion augmentation. The opening epic ‘If I Was a Killer’ sets the tone, equal parts beautiful and disturbing. ‘Hotel Floor’ continues the mood and it’s not until we get to the waltz of ‘You Who Braved the Storm’ that the mood lightens, if only in a musical sense. Fear not however, the track which follows it, ‘Sigfried and Eileen’, as well as the majority of the rest of the album, returns us to the comfortable envelopment of melancholy.

What’s so great about this album is the fact that it is built upon a fairly limited scope of instrumentation. No kitchen-sink production here, just everything in its right place, whether that’s flourishes of brass or beautifully sweeping cello, while the songs don’t always do what you expect them to, they are all intensely satisfying.

Parry’s voice is something of an acquired taste, but stick with it, and the album, long enough to give it a chance and you’ll find an album that, were there any justice in the music industry, it would be the top choice of middle-aged mothers shopping for the “cool music” in Tesco (as well as all the indie pretty boys Britain can muster). Please buy this record. You can thank me later.

Guest article from Haydon S.

Written by Guest Writers on

Between 2003 and 2009, [the-mag] had regular contributors from music correspondents covering their local scene. You'll find them all in the guest writers section. The specific writer is mentioned at the bottom of each article.

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