BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Not to be a dick about it, but thank the gods Anders Parker has rediscovered his electric guitar. His years in Varnaline and his first couple of solo records spoiled us – the marriage of singer/songwriter craft and loud rock was too perfect. The shift (descent?) into softer, more sedate sounds starting with his 2006 self-titled record seemed to enervate his songwriting as much as his studio performances. But there were signs of dissatisfaction on the overtly poppy Wild Chorus, the record he shared with his old pal Kendall Meade as Anders & Kendall, and that restlessness has apparently sent him back to his amplifiers for There’s a Bluebird in My Heart.
The blues-rocking “Animal,” grunged-out yet elegiac “Jackbooted Thugs” and bracingly rocking “The Road” soar to the skies or dig into the dirt in a way Parker hasn’t attempted in a good long while. This isn’t to say there aren’t quieter songs here. But folk rockers like the appropriately widescreen “Epic Life,” the gorgeous “Unspoken” and the exceptionally melodic “Don’t Let the Darkness In” sit in context, rather than dominating, and come off as that much more inviting and beautiful as a result.
If you’d given up on Parker after a few too many sedate navelgazers, perk your ears up once again: There’s a Bluebird in My Heart is the sound of a great artist coming back home.
DOWNLOAD: “Epic Life,” “The Road,” “Unspoken”