Better Already: The Songs of Al Park
An intriguing compilation, this. One that works very well too – the songs are fine, strong, interesting. Sometimes great. But the talent involved would mean fans would want to get on board anyway. Delaney Davidson, Marlon Williams, Barry Saunders, Adam McGrath….it’s a package-tour without the tour. This time for the record.
Al Park, writer of these songs – is a Christchurch-based Zelig-type. And the connections he’s formed over the years with the performers involved here mean that there’s a story behind every one of these renditions.
The album opens with Jordan Luck singing I Walked Away (a collaboration between Park and the poet Ben Brown). Go back to the Dance Exponents’ Victoria and you’ll find Park in the video to that song.
He’s also been the guy behind the counter at Echo Records – which is where he and McGrath bonded. He opened Al’s Bar where many of these people played. He talent-spotted a young Delaney Davidson way back. Here Delaney rips through Melt Me With Your Kiss. A terrific song which, in his inimitable way, Davidson makes his own.
Marlon Williams ditches the country croon for a rocking-good-time through a parched Want You Back Againt; feeling more like late-period George Harrison than Elvis or The Big O.
And so it goes. Every song has a story. Every story goes back to Al Park being not just a writer and musician but a fosterer of community; part of a hub.
So, yes, this is a tribute to his spirit – and songs. But it’s to Christchurch too. To the Lyttelton scene.
Barry Saunders, Helen Mulholland and Marlon Williams sharing Don’t Call It Love is my favourite song here. A great performance. A great blend of very different voices.
It’s a something-for-everyone feel overall. Well worth checking out.
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