Deepcut to Nowhere recalls some of the passion and feel of Parker's early albums, helped along by his own crisp guitars, the rock-solid bass of Pete Donnelly (of the Figgs), and the welcome return of Rumour drummer Steve Goulding after a two-decade absence. Parker's rough-edged vocals have improved over the years, and it's a pleasure to hear him front an electric band again. He still snarls with the best of them when the humor takes him -- with odd hints of a younger Van Morrison -- but he can also purr like a latter-day Sam Cooke.
The opening "Dark Days" seems particularly relevant in view of recent attacks on the U.S., and "Syphilis & Religion (two things you could probably do without)" also resonates in unexpected ways. There is tenderness too ("Depend on Me"), though some paeans to domesticity ("Tough on Clothes") seem like throwaways. Maybe he'll explain the origins of the feisty but cryptic "I'll Never Play Jacksonville Again" at his upcoming Atlanta appearance.
Graham Parker plays with the Figgs Sat., Oct. 13, at the Variety Playhouse.
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