Joseph Parsons: The Field The Forest

Label: Meer Music & Blue Rose Records (Edel)  Release: 26.08.2016

Joseph Parsons’ newest album The Field The Forest has two sides which are presented in the shape of two EPs, a lighter, softer one with The Field and a darker, rockier one with The Forest. Both albums are an invitation to listen and they work equally well not matter if you set out to let the music carry you or want to dig deep into the lyrics.

The Field centers around relationships and their complexity. The opener All The Way feels like a warm summer day, the music sounds happy, but the lyrics are not beyond doubt, showing that the relationship the song talks about is not without low points, but still seen in a positive light. The beautiful Berlin is a love song to as city, personified  as an unusual woman. Need You is a soft ballad, speaking of a love  that is fulfilled while Don’t Belong talks about love that the protagonist does not admit to and hence remains unfulfilled. Fly, my favorite song on this EP next to Berlin is an appeal not to give up on one’s dreams to learn to fly again. This first album ends with Fragile Moon which accurately describes how it feels to love while never daring to speak the words “the holy ones, the sacred ones we hold on to”. With this the lighter, more hopeful side of The Field The Forest ends. Overall it sounds softer, more solemn, the music does not have so much of an edge to it, but the lyrics still show great depth.

With the second EP The Forest Parsons turns to darker topics. The music becomes harder, rockier and his band can turn things up a bit here. The opener Scream talks about someone who is searching, restlessly walking the world, trying to find meaning. This Song could be read as a search for faith, but it could just as easily be talking about destiny or love. The Abyss speaks of hope for salvation from a bleak existence while the musically more sparse Baying speaks of hope for peace. The rocking Bliss, my favorite on the second EP is a song full of defiance about standing up to difficulties and living your life according to your own wishes against all odds because “ain’t nothing wrong with a little bliss”. By contrast Shadowland is going back and forth between hope (“still I know there’s a way to reach the Promised Land”) and despair (“there is no room for hope in this Shadowland”) and ends as a plea not to give up. The calm closer Horizon deals with the loss of a loved one and the hold this person has left. With this it’s goodbye to the album or listen to The Field The Forest once again.

The music that goes with the poetic lyrics is sometimes cajoling, sometimes rousing, ranging from insistent whispers to almost screams and it is always catchy. The sound of both CDs is rich and full, Parsons voice filled with warmth. Last but not least I want to say that in this digital age it is nice to hold a beautiful and lovingly designed booklet in my hands that even contains all the lyrics. Overall a nice piece of work. Just listen!

Tracklist The Field:

  1. All The Way
  2. Berlin
  3. Need You
  4. Don’t Belong
  5. Fly
  6. Fragile Moon

Tracklist The Forest:

  1. Scream
  2. Abyss
  3. Baying
  4. Bliss
  5. Shadowland
  6. Horizon

Stefanie Oepen

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