Dan Parsons – “Firestarter” LP Review

Review: Lana Harris

DanDan Parsons
  When writing about music, there’s a variety of words to use in order to avoid saying ‘song’ over and over again. For the most part, these words are interchangeable – the exact meaning matters little. Dan Parsons’ music took exception to this and the word ‘ditty’ just kept springing to mind. The exact meaning of ‘ditty’ is a short simple song, a poem intended to be sung, and this description fits his musical style like a ripped pair of skinny jeans fits indie pop.

The tracks on Firestarter are all short pop numbers, hanging around the three minute mark and taking inspiration from the catalogue of relationship

experiences that pop loves to work with. Parsons’uses a reflective, ruminative style to shape his words, which invoke images from the time of life found in the space after school, drifting past innocence but having not yet arrived anywhere else.

Instrumentally, there is a focus on guitar work, but the second half of the album uses keys to good effect on the melodious ‘I Can’t Watch You’, a candy coated nod to sixties style pop. ‘Back Off’, despite starting off the back of ‘I Can’t Watch You’ and using a similar array of instruments, is the complete opposite. Here, Parsons’ is drowning in a sticky black morass, and the resulting effort emphatically defies the ‘ditty’ label. The contrast between ‘I Can’t Watch You’ and ‘Back Off’ hints that the range in which Parsons’ may develop proficiency could be much wider than the indie pop label implies.

‘Rabbit Hole’ is one of the best compositions on the album. It maintains a strong beat throughout and pumps out a fullness of sound not achieved elsewhere. It also has wonderfully selfish, grungy lyrics that stand defiantly against Parsons’ usual ballad styled introspection. ‘The Conqueror’ has a slower pace, yet is still captivating and also brings a full sound, the talents of piano player James O’Brien shining through. Title inspiration ‘Firestarter’ is easy to hum along to, as is the bittersweet first single ‘Run With Me’ (released last year ahead of this album release), but ‘Firestarter’ is definitely the gutsier of the two. Overall, this is a fresh faced debut album by a man whose talents should see his range and popularity grow as he does.

DanDan Parsons