Steve Parsons, for those who don’t know, is a songwriter from Newfoundland, Canada. He’s your old storyteller, much in the vein of classic artists like Dylan and Syd Barrett, and songs like those contained on his latest release A Western Goodbye (on which he plays all your standard instruments) are sorely needed in this day and age.
The album starts off with the progressive melody of The Strangest Night and the pleasantly amusing lyrics ‘I fell asleep/Woke up in the harbour…When I opened my eyes, two men appeared, they go through my belongings and try to cut my hair’. This theme of resistance resonates throughout the album, sort of a salute to what one might call unconventional living (depending who you work for).
The upbeat track Float On By follows it up, just before The Sun & The Clowns. A cynical take on culture, Parsons gently harps on everything from the lottery to film to government, and executes it beautifully, complete with some wild improvised vocals at the end (a trademark at this point in his career).
Denied Parole is an almost droning, yet rocking track with almost totally absurd vocals and lyrics. While many musicians might not be able to pull this kind of thing off very well, Parsons does a solid job, and winds up with a great tune resemblant of some of the crazier works of Mark Bragg.
Cast Out tells the sorrowful tale of a citizen outcast from his own town, which meets with the meandering instrumental Windbreaker.
Accomodations is, I would say, one of the big highlights of the album, and perhaps would’ve found a better fit as the opening track, with the smooth swinging beat and initial lyrics ‘The sound is back, it’s about to attack and groove’.
The album ends off with the massive nine minute song The Prize, a sprawling and relentlessly chaotic piece, and the charming tale of a wanderer contained in the acoustic beat of the title track A Western Goodbye.
All in all, it’s a successful endeavor, getting its point across within many unique stories from many points of view, and manages to capture a sound all its own.