Parker Paul


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Not shy about indulging in the occasional atonal moan ("Secret Monorail") or dabbling in faux country ("When I Got You at the Pound," a ballad to his dog wherein he rhymes kennel cough with parvo shots), Paul shifts styles -- cabaret, Tropicalia, piano balladry, free pop, and soft cowboy rock -- with characteristically unapologetic awkwardness. The songs are puckish, distraught, jazz-inflected studies of childlike reactions to the human condition. In the brilliantly titled "Innocent Wrists," he sings, "I had to turn away from love to feel safe" with a perverse abandon, as if he might as well revel in the tragedy of the course his life has taken. Throwing off clusters of run-on, stream-of-consciousness lyrics ("Rooster sauce and near beer/Liquid smoke and Job's tears" from "Agent of Intimacy"), Paul makes light of stark circumstances, relating a comically skewed vision.

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