Out of the Dark
Hopeless Romantics Records
Joyann Parker is a classically trained pianist with a degree in music from the University of Wisconsin. Before 2014 she had only sang with a wedding band. After hearing her sing Aretha Franklin’s soul classic “Chain of Fools” she was asked to join a Minneapolis based blues band. In 2015, Joyann Parker and Sweet Tea, released the album “On The Rocks”. That band went on to compete in the International Blues Challenge, and wound up a quarter-finalist. Parker decided to further pursue her career and in 2018 released her highly acclaimed solo debut “Hard To Love”.
Production on “Out of the Dark”, began in January of 2020 with co-producers Parker, Mark Lamoine and Kevin Bowe. Bowe’s myriad credits include working with Etta James, Joe Cocker, John Mayall, and Bruce Springsteen. Unfortunately, due to the Covid pandemic, production was halted in March and not resumed until June. Parker says of the break “When you’re so busy, you get caught up in the competitiveness of things, so, it was good to stop and examine why I’m doing this and where I’m going.” The number of musicians allowed to enter the studio at one-time was limited, so production lasted through August.
The core band includes Parker, guitar, keyboards, and vocals; Mark Lamoine, guitars and background vocals; Tim Wick, piano and organ; Brad Schaeffer, bass; and Bill Golden, drums, percussion and background vocals. Also utilized are Rich Manik, saxophone and flute; Dave Budimer, trombone; Dave Foley, trumpet; guitarist Paul Mayasich; and four additional background singers.
Eleven new songs were composed by Parker and Lamoine. Harmony opens the southern rock styled “Gone So Long”, while Lamoine’s resonator guitar sets up Parker’s stunning lead. The gospel inspired “Carry On”, a song of perseverance, features lyrics from the Book of Isaiah “when dark clouds gather round you, and the night is dark and long, when the devil is coming for you, carry on, child, carry on”. Guitarist Parker takes a solo as her vocal nuances color every note.
On “Bad Version of Myself” Rory Hoffman’s jazzy harmonica contrasts with Parker’s beautiful voice. The upbeat “What Did You Expect” is a bit of pop that borders on the theatrical. Mayasich’s dramatic slide on “Either Way” is a perfect match for Parker’s poignant vocal. “Predator” is another well written song with a Latin beat. The New Orleans inspired “Dirty Rotten Guy” features pianist Wick, as he channels Professor Longhair, while vocalist Parker “lets the good times roll”.
Parker reminds me of the late 1950’s and early 60’s as she sings the tin-pan alley styled “Come On Baby (Take Me Dancing)” with Manik’s saxophone reminiscent of Sam “The Man” Taylor. “Fool For You” and “Hit Me Like A Train” are two more high-energy vocals that also serve to highlight this fabulous band. Parker closes with the title track, “Out of the Dark”, and adds it’s about the way I’ve been feeling and changing over the past year, figuring out who I am. I was coming out of my own darkness.”
This soulful collection of songs should further establish Parker as an artist worth following. The year’s pandemic caused a great amount of consternation; the positive Parker emerges and states “it’s a great time to release this album, people need music right now”. The album scheduled to be released in February, will be the first on December’s list of 2021’s best.