The term “folk singer” comes with some very loaded images. Images of everything from emotive acoustic players, narrative storytellers, traditional bastions of historical musical forms, rabble-rousers, troubadours and street corner orators. Take your pick. Well, with Alun Parry you don’t really have too as all of these elements shift and evolve through his songs. A roots Renaissance man in the truest sense.
He moves with ease from folk club integrity to slick Americana to indie-pop acoustica to folk-rock and beyond and whilst doing so has the lyrical depth to match his generic deftness. And whilst many singers are in the market for self-aggrandisement and personal promotion, Alun feels like the narrator of a series of kitchen sink dramas. Small, intimate and universally relatable stories but ones that closely examine the human condition, songs about facing fears, slaying demons and celebrating life.
He also does a neat line in celebrating people, notably Jack Jones, Union leader and anti-fascist firebrand, in a jaunty summation of his life, a song which echoes the stance and style of that favourite of my formative years, The Men They Couldn’t Hang.
This is an album of well-crafted songs, message driven and optimistic, at turns observational, reflective and even defiant. But more than that it is relevant, a reminder of the small things that matter and the big, timeless issues that we still need to deal with.