There’s an underrated psychedelic singer-songwriter who’s frequently collaborated with the great Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre fame worthy of recognition, and that is Tess Parks. Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Parks has combined folk, rock, and shoegaze into a perfect blend. The result is her debut album, Blood Hot.
The title is appropriate, as all the songs give the listener a warm feeling upon opening the record. “Somedays” opens with a slow three-chord melody and billowing drums. The song touches on depression and isolation (“I don’t like anything / But I love everyone some days”), but regardless of the subject matter, Parks knows how to put the listener at peace.
Right after, the ears are graced with “Gates of Broadway,” which details a tense relationship. Parks’ raspy but soothing voice can take the listener on a trip like no other. One can notice the vocals almost fade into the guitar itself, creating a trippy wall of sound. Her soaring guitar improvisation isn’t half-bad either.
Like Keitch Richards, Parks knows how to make a simple chord progression sound incredibly catchy, as exemplified by almost all the songs of the album. Prototype versions of “Somedays” and “Refugee Camp” can be found on YouTube, which were recorded in her bedroom in 2010 and 2012 before the album was released. In the former, she’s playing on acoustic, and without vocal effects, you can feel the energy and emotion emanating from her. One can tell the song was deeply personal to her as well.
Blood Hot’s album cover is welcoming, as it pictures Parks standing against a paisley rug on the wall with a flower in her hand, alluding to the psychedelic 60s her music is influenced by. The look might remind people of a brunette Joni Mitchell.
Despite her frequent collaborations with Anton Newcombe, Tess Parks is a strong artist on her own, and Blood Hot is proof of that. Since it is her only solo album to date and was released in 2013, it would be interesting to see what another would look like by herself. That’s not to say her music with Newcombe isn’t strong, because they truly do work well as a team, and their partnership is as strong as it always has been.
All in all, Blood Hot is a serene listening experience, and is perfect for that evening on the couch after a long day of work or whatever keeps you occupied during the day.