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Christian Parker’s “Diamond Sailor”

There’s a strong Beatles vibe to both the presentation and the construction of Christian Parker’s new single “Diamond Sailor,” but while the retro theme is inescapable no matter what angle you’re listening to this song from, its emotions are anything but removed from the here and now. Parker has a fragility in his voice that is obvious even at a distance, and as we get closer to his heart through the string of verses leading us into the climax of “Diamond Sailor,” it becomes clear just how vulnerable he’s being with the audience in this performance. In a big year for singer/songwriters, his latest release is quite the stunner indeed.

The timid vocal that Parker is employing for the better part of this track is at once both reserved and dynamically right for the arrangement he’s straddling on the instrumental half of the song, and I think he really needed this kind of an approach if he was going to emphasize the importance of the rhythm. This is a very tempo-driven performance, and one is inclined to become as enamored with the groove as they are the slow-rolling drawl at the helm of the lyrics.

Although it’s steeped in elements of the past that a lot of listeners would just as soon reject as too throwback-ish for the contemporary pop model, there’s no getting around the first-person passion that Parker has as a storyteller here. The animation in the music video feels quite present and relevant to present themes, and as it relates to the greater aesthetic of the music, it feels more like an evolved version of classic pop than it does anything copied directly from a school that produced another set of legends in this genre. This is a player who wears his heart and influences on his sleeve, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this instance.

The piano element in this mix is an especially comforting component of the harmony, and I don’t think it could have been replaced with another instrumental part and produced as much of a vacuum effect as we’re getting here. From what I can tell, developing a signature vibe is probably as important to this artist as actually laying the foundation for a strong melody is, which has not been true of the majority of his peers in the last few years, and we’re reaping the rewards of this approach epically in “Diamond Sailor.”

Both reflective but not quite depressing in the sense that a lot of other, similarly stylized music tends to be, Christian Parker’s new single is a rare combination of ingredients that taste all the better under the summer sun this year. “Diamond Sailor” has a heady harmony as its bread and butter, but I think it’s concealing a lot of intricacies this singer/songwriter is going to be unleashing the next time he hits the recording studio. There’s more to this artistry, and I’m curious to see and hear how it’s going to come together in the future.

Mindy McCall

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