23 Sep 2018
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Jed Parsons - Album Review: Midnight Feast

31 Jul 2018 // A review by Alex Moulton

Jed Parsons debut album, Midnight Feast, has a subdued beginning, with some simple guitar and vocals for Real World. Some minimal acoustic effects that give the effect of playing in a large hall. Interestingly, this track comes with an “EXPLICIT” rating due to the use of the term “bulls**t” at the end of the song, but the lyrical content will certainly be more relatable to an adult nonetheless; speaking of working 9-to-5 jobs we don’t like, to buy things we don’t need, replacing experiences and memories with unnecessary possessions. Three minutes of solo work from Jed Parsons makes way for a concerted effort from the band, amping up the energy for the final chorus with some piano, Hammond organ, and bass guitar, before quickly receding into silence once more.

This is juxtaposed by the following track Get Lost, which I have previously reviewed here. The track shows nothing but relentless, almost childish curiosity, with an air of freedom and energetic nonchalance to the ways of the Real World. The synths really make the track pop and create a great hook. The track follows on from the theme set forth by its predecessor, looking at escaping from the “comfort” of a living “the life”, choosing not to settle down.

Moving on to Time, the pace is kept quite high as we are treated to a Jed Parsons relationship song. Another snappy track with a great consistent beat that gets the head bobbing, but the real star in Parsons music is his lyrics. A true storyteller, each song almost reads like a diary, and the story moves on throughout the verses and choruses; even though the chorus of a track is generally repeated lyrics, Parsons has adjusted them slightly to change the narrative, and press the story onwards while still maintaining the structure of the song. While my material first felt like Indie rock, there is a definite folk influence.

The album stops in its tracks with I Need Her. Coupled with the relationship theme of Time, I Need Her is a bluesy, soulful love song. A slowly building track, it escalates into an almost gospel inspired cacophony, with backing harmonising vocals from Lisa Tomlins, and some great Hammond organ pieces from Ed Zuccollo. There is no subtlety to the message here. Unabashed and uncompromising, Parsons wears his heart on his sleeve.

And yet the theme continues on, with Reading Me Wrong and Dreams. Not content in sugar coating anything, Parsons singing about the more difficult times, in a more intimate ballad style for Reading Me Wrong. Accompanied by traditional orchestral instruments, in the form of double bass, cello, and trumpets, there is a seriousness portrayed. Slower, and more tranquil, with some swelling ambience, and backing harmonies, there is an emotional intricacy at play. Dreams come in a more modern tone, formulaic, initially funky like Arctic Monkeys Crawling Back To You, with enough synths later to emulate the likes of Coldplay.  

How Could You, is an interesting track that feels like something from some the soundtrack of an early Disney Animated movie (I’m talking the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Jungle Book Era). Another ballad styled track, this one with an oriental tinge to it thanks to the combination of the guitar and double bass. Slightly more cryptic and repetitive on the lyrical side, the track also includes a 15-second whistling solo (how more Snow White could you get?).

The pace picks up again with Everybody’s Stupid, and funnily the track isn’t rated as “EXPLICIT” on Spotify, despite the presence of “f**ked” in the lyrics. Leaning towards surf rock, the track is calm but would be considered nothing special if not for those synth riffs that come in like a kick in the pants, injecting a funk and rhythm.

Midnight Feast is heading towards to the end, and it certainly seems that the fast-paced tracks that have been released prior to the album release (Get Lost, Time, and Everybody’s Stupid) are more the exceptions to the rule, rather than showcasing Jed Parsons more consistent style. Move On showcases Parsons brilliant ability to orchestrate a number of instruments into an enjoyable soundscape but is more smooth than edgy and excitable. There are a lot of well-done harmonies and accentuations with unconventional instrument choices but does seem to be written more with the live show in mind, as something to provide a break to the musicians and vocalists. Ending similarly to how it started, the closing track is She’s OK. An acoustic track with the double bass and cello returns for an encore performance.

There is a definite high level of quality to the production of Midnight Feast, and Jed Parsons tendency to use unconventional instruments that can easily be substituted for a live set shows, gives the album something special, that isn’t completely lost when on tour. With the strong narrative in the lyrical content and the wide variety of musical styles that create a world of potential whimsey and wonder, Midnight Feast provides a much-needed respite from modern slavery of the real world.


Review written by Alex Moulton

 

About Jed Parsons

Jed Parsons is a fresh young talent hailing from Christchurch, New Zealand. At 20 years old, Parsons is the youngest member of the ‘Fledge’ creative collective, and is already gaining a powerful reputation in the music scene as a talented drummer and a singer/songwriter.

Through his success in Mike Chunn’s national secondary school song writing competition in 2010 (Play It Strange), Parsons met with some of Christchurch’s most well renowned musicians (the roots of a creative collective now known as ‘Fledge’) including Ben Campbell (Zed, Atlas, All My Brothers), Moses Robbins (Atlas, All My Brothers) and Kurt Preston (Superfood), who went on to form a hard-hitting rock band with Parsons called House Of Mountain. Within 18 months of their formation, the group had played over 70 shows together, touring extensively around the South Island of New Zealand, and as far away as the Philippines.

The boys also play as the backing bands for both acts Happiness Stan and Hera – both extremely talented singer/songwriters from Christchurch and the Fledge crew, and both of whom Parsons has recently been collaborating with as an acoustic trio.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Jed Parsons

Releases

Midnight Feast
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Live At York Street
Year: 2013
Type: Album

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