Hope For Centuries, which was produced & mixed by Devin Greenwood in Brooklyn, NY (Heavens Above), exhibits his band in fine form as they seamlessly build upon Parsons’ characteristic and emotive voice. The band, including Sven Hansen (Germany), Ross Bellenoit (USA) & Freddi Lubitz (Netherlands), recorded at Kawari Sound in Philadelphia with Matt Muir (US Rails, 4 Way Street) engineering, a homecoming for Parsons who lived in the city for 15 years before moving to Europe. The 13 song release sees Parsons come into his own as a world class songwriter and singer while exhibiting his masterful grasp of melody and harmony.
“The title comes from Harbinger where the protagonist is so hopeful, it could last him for centuries to come”, says Parsons. Yes, it is a hopeful record but it is not a light record. It moves in and out of shadows and sunlight mirroring our own lives. His resonant baritone emotes instinctively through stories of love, betrayal, AIDS and more.
The biggest change on Hope For Centuriesis that this record was made with his touring band who played the tracks live in the studio together, which is a rare thing indeed. No overdubs were performed. The band has been touring for a few years and is in great form. It is nota studio ‘production’ record where everyone plays at different times and possibly different locations. This makes it more cohesive and brings out the magic inherent to fine musicians who are also adept at improvisation. Parsons asked Devin Greenwood to produce and empowered him to create a ‘band’ studio CD. Parsons say’s, “The frequent challenge with making records is letting them breathe. To empower them with life and to let them grow within us with each listen. Songs, to me, dictate the production. We just have to get out of the way.”
These songs were written in two settings. The first was when Parsons was living in Paris in the 2nd arrondissements at while finishing up the last record, ‘Heavens Above’. “Paris is a perfect city to write in. I’ve always had a creative experience there,” Parsons says. The next session was last winter in a small cabin by the North Sea in North Germany that a friend offered. “It was snowing, cold and the cabin was heated by a wood stove. It was that winter emergent energy that gave me the edge of some of the songs like ‘Roman & Michael’and ‘Runway’.
Of the tracks offered, several are instant catchers like ‘Roman & Michael’, a true story of the first years of HIV/AIDS when no one knew what it was. It assails todays government for the consistent lack of commitment to a cure while they spend a billion dollars a day on their wars. Another song, ‘Broken Vows’ was written from a poem Parsons found by an unknown author. It is a perfect marriage of the lyric and music and exemplifies the torment of betrayal with Parsons’ Lou Reed-esque diatribe of spoken word. There is also ‘More’, which confesses the inability to describe how deep and patient love can be, lending only that it is ‘More’.
Parsons has left his long time record label Blue Rose Records to try to find new audiences outside the Americana /Roots Rock genre they specialize in. While he has left for his personal records, Parsons maintains a strong and creative relationship with Blue Rose Records and continues to release ‘Parsons Thibaud’ and ‘US Rails’ record with them.
Hope For Centuries is on Meer Music and distributed by Rough Trade through India Media Group.