Friday, August 29, 2008

Joseph Parsons - Heavens Above

Looks like Joseph Parsons is one of the most prolific artists reviewed here on Leaky Sparrow: live performances in Germany and in Paris, the Fleury Sessions CD, The Parsons-Thibaud Acoustic Duo CD and now Heavens Above his 7th studio CD. This new release is obviously the long-awaited milestone in a now very productive career. Joseph Parsons, Philadelphia born singer-songwriter, has delivered with Heavens Above his most ambitious work to date.
This record shows the multiple talents of Joseph Parsons. From the classical sing-a-long Parsons’ tunes perfect to be played live (Heavens Above, Skipping Stone, Tell Me Hello) to the more “from the heart” songs like Falling (beautiful background vocals from Emiliana Zeitlyn also on Anyone), not to forget the CSN&Yest Sky Boys and Dume Room, the story of a Southern Californian troll (a vagabond with a mysterious aura).
Please, read the following interview that Joseph agreed to give to Leaky Sparrow. You'll understand how important this record is for him and why I am so happy that he finally release a “fearless record”.
Heavens Above was produced and recorder by Devin Greenwood (Norah Jones, Amos Lee). Joseph Parsons’ music is available on his Website, in Europe on Blue Rose Records, as well as world wide on iTunes (September 2). Starting September 2008, Joseph Parsons Band will tour Germany, The Netherlands, Austria with a few dates in the USA.

Joseph Parsons - Falling .mp3
Joseph Parsons - Heavens Above .mp3

Leaky Sparrow: There are references to « heaven » in many songs. Not only on the title song. You dedicated this record to your father who died last year, was Heavens Above influence by this sad event? Is it your intention that people should read anything into these repeated references?
Joseph Parsons
: Heaven, being the hope that the faithful have, is always a wonderful metaphor in song. Since my father died, I have certainly become more thoughtful about ‘our’ state of existence and the fragility inherent in our everyday lives. It reminds me of the old saying, “without sadness, we will never know true happiness”, or something like that. My father was the person in my life who encouraged me throughout our time together. He was a man who said; “Make sure you follow your dreams. Be a trash collector, be a businessman, be an artist, it doesn’t matter as long as you do what you love to do.”

LS: There's a fair degree of diversity across the record, and tracks like Anyone, Falling and I Saw You stand out particularly for me as it's more in the vein of a singer-songwriter like Nick Drake. Is Heavens Above a new step in your songwriting?
: These are songs that I probably enjoy writing the most. I have a lot of these mood pieces, songs that make me feel and help to explore an emotion. When Devin Greenwood joined the project as producer, I felt I could trust him to help me translate these songs and make them as beautiful as they became. It’s the song that isn’t pushed or driven, it floats down the river. I discovered Nick Drake late, like the early 90’s, and I have become a fan for sure.

LS: What were the challenges and rewards of making the record?
: I think the most difficult aspect of making this record is that some songs are, in my ego-centric insecure mind, not accessible or too far out in left field. I have feared for a long time that songs like Anyone or I Saw You would leave me too vulnerable. That if people didn’t like them, it would be a direct reflection on them not liking me as a person. What’s really cool though is that as I’ve gotten a bit older, I care a lot less about what people think of my art and more about the honesty of it. That has been the reward, to care less of what is thought of my expression.

LS: You wrote most of the new songs in Paris. What significance or influence does the place have for you?
: It’s probably because Paris is the first city where I felt free. I was there when I was 20 and it felt like I could be anyone I wanted to be. I played music by the Pompidou and in the Metro’s. It’s where I ‘cut my teeth’ performing, writing, and it’s where I learned how to project my voice. Paris, to me, is like going home. Writing there is very easy for me. Of course the beauty, women, food and wine doesn’t hurt either.

LS: You were a member of bands like Hardpan, Four Way Street and you made a record together with Todd Thibaud last year.... Obviously you like to share your music with other singer-songwriters. How do you manage to juggle your time between these different projects?
: As the old expression say’s: “If you want something done, give it to a busy person”. Because of my Virgo nature, obsessive & workaholic behaviour, I tend to get deep into making things happen. I have a deep belief in sharing and creating art on the fly. With collaborative projects like these, you never know what will happen, in the studio or especially live, when you work with good artists. It makes for GREAT theatre as well. Collaborative projects can be the most rewarding and the most frustrating of all. Giving up the decision process and control can be either very liberating or the contrary. And it helps when the others are not drug addicts or alcoholics.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

HEAVNES ABOVE is a fantastic record, and those of you who love it, should (MUST) have the other release from 2008 called FALLING. it has some raw acoustic material played solo acoustic..... I swear: you´ll love it !!!


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