With three singles released earlier in the year, Christchurch indie artist Jed Parsons ’ debut album deals with love, coming of age, and seeking meaning in life.
Those who loved the sense of fun and raucous energy of his first few singles will be satisfied, and perhaps also pleasantly surprised by his capacity for raw, heartfelt emotion.
Things get deep pretty quick with opener Real World tackling such relevant social issues as the emptiness of a 9-to-5 life driven by hyper-consumerism. Parsons’ own stripped back guitar and vocals are joined by organ, backing vocals and a repeated melancholy piano motif, bringing the song to a much more driven end on a despairing note; “…teach to your children, the same bullshit, my boy.”
After that heavy first course, we snap back into familiar territory with Get Lost, one of tracks previously released as a single, along with a hilarious Tim McInnes-directed video. Upbeat and off-beat, it encapsulates the pent-up angst of feeling caught in the “subdivision living” and complacency of the Kiwi dream.
Parsons’ hard hitting lyrics are accompanied by richly layered instrumentation. He leans heavily on the insta-depth provided by the organ (Hammond plus Rhodes courtesy of Ed Zuccollo), includes a sombre cello part (played by Naomi Hnat) in Reading Me Wrong, and sweeping melodic strings in She’s OK. The sweet ballad I Need Her particularly showcases his extensive vocal range – starting off quiet and vulnerable, it builds to a fever pitch resplendent with brass (Cameron Robertson on trumpet), belting soul vocals and – of course – more organ. Production credits are shared by Parsons and Lee Prebble, who recorded and mixed the tracks at The Surgery Studios in Wellington.
While his musicality comes through in the sophisticated composition and instrumentation, Jed Parsons clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously. With its varied influences – from folk rock, pop and soul – ‘Midnight Feast’ is label-defying and has something to offer anyone who wants to take a bite.