The first single from the Texan artist's forthcoming 'Crown of Sparrows' is an overwhelming piece of horn-filled country melancholy.
Texan-born artist Monk Parker didn't release his debut album until his 40th birthday in August, 2015. He'd released some fascinating records—first with Lily Wolfe as Parker & Lily, later with a revolving door of artists in the New York-based indie-folk band The Low Lows—but How The Spark Loves His Tinder was his first completely personal endeavor, a melancholy clash of acoustic guitars and soft horns, held together by Parker's heartbroken, well whiskey vocals.
Parker's second album, Crown of Sparrows, is out August 4 on Grand Jury Music. And if "Gaudy Frame," premiering on Noisey today, is anything to go by, the weight hasn't lifted in the space between records. Country slide guitars arch into trumpet fanfares with Parker's voice pitched up into a stark delicacy. Had Jeff Mangum written a follow-up to In The Aeroplane Over The Sea while sitting half-drunk at an empty bar twenty miles outside of Austin, this could have been its centerpiece, fixation and all. "How could you miss me / Sitting here with this pale girl and my clear-as-gin halo," Parker sings. "Don't you know my whole drunken world Is a gaudy frame / For a picture-perfect girl."
In an email to Noisey, Parker explained that the song was born out of the feeling that he was living in a Rooney Mara movie.
We'd been touring through Europe non-stop, and I kept seeing Rooney Mara on the TV in hotel lobbies, or on posters along the high streets or whatnot. Just nagging at the edge of my consciousness. I'd meet girls that reminded me of her. A crush, really, that's all. But at one point in the arc of my tour-psychosis that winter, it occurred to me that maybe she was the actual star of the show I was acting in each day, if you see what I mean. That all our raggedy-ass efforts schlepping gear around Germany were just the setup for some long zoom shot past the out-of-focus band to the TV at the end of the bar, where Rooney would be doing all that real perfect, important stuff they do in the movies.
Which was somehow weirdly comforting.
Anyway I wrote this about that, in my friend Kamy's farmhouse outside Toulouse, and we recorded it in Berlin on the last day of tour, months later. I figure once Rooney hears it she'll be wanting to get married and settle down and all that, so y'all can just go ahead and write that ending if you like.
If someone could let Rooney Mara know, that would be great. Listen to "Gaudy Frame" in full below.
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