David Parry

Man from Eldorado: Songs and Stories of Robert W. Service

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Directly inspired by Peter Bellamy's musical settings of the poetry of Rudyard Kipling, British-born, Canada-based singer/songwriter David Parry developed a similar group of musical settings for the poems and ballads of Robert W. Service, a contemporary of Kipling who specialized in tales of the Great White North in the rough-housing old gold rush era. Working slowly over a period of several years, Parry created an intriguing and utterly natural set of tunes for these poems, attuned to the natural rhythms of the words but with their own musical weight. Most of the songs are in the English folk ballad tradition, although the most effective tunes are in a more modern style that takes in both English music hall singalongs and the cowboy songs of the American West. The most effective tracks are "The Petit Vieux," an utterly lovely guitar and fiddle tune with some wickedly funny lyrics about the concept of aging gracefully, and the similarly ironic "In Praise of Alcohol," a sinner's hymn given an appropriately church-like hymnal feel. There's little that's musty or academic about this album. Parry's settings are loose, playful, and fun as much as they're respectful of the writer and his work, and they stand on their own even for those unfamiliar with Service's poetry.

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