We are back to new music reviews and back with Arlo Parks and her new track Hurt off of her record Collapsed in Sunbeams. This is Parks’ second record and I have to admit that I have not heard her music before. However, I have seen this record pop up on some “what to watch” lists, so I thought I would give it a go. First off, this released late in 2020, so this track will be eligible for top tracks of 2021. She is a London based artist who may not be well known in the states right now, but I think she will become more known after this record.
First off, I love the whole vibe of Hurt and the record in general. Parks hits that great balance between R&B / soul and jazz. She does not go as hard on fusion as say Robert Glasper or Kamasi Washington, but it is not so smooth in soulless that you feel like you are waiting in line at Starbucks for a Venti vanilla latte. It gives the track, and the record, an inviting warmth and soul that some modern R&B records are lacking; I’m looking at you Party Next Door. The entire record has a nice flow as you move from track to track and explore different emotional landscapes. If Parks tried to make an electronic based record, you would lose all the power behind her emotional lyrics. It’s great to hear a R&B record touch on traditional jazz notes.
Lyrically, Arlo Parks explores grief and depression in a unique way with such soul and respect. She does not fall into tropes and her lyrics sound grounded and personal. In Hurt she sings about a person who is in the midst of debilitating depression. Charlie, the track’s speaker, talk about drinking himself into numbness, melting into his mattress and being overwhelmed with his flaws. There is some hope where she sings “I know you can’t let go / Of anything at the moment / Just know it won’t hurt so / It won’t hurt so much forever.” I think the best lyric is “Wouldn’t it be lovely to feel somethin’ for once? / Yeah, wouldn’t it lovely to feel work somethin'” This shows the complexity of depression, which is the longing to feel and break through the numbness, while also being stuck in a pit of worthlessness and self-loathing. Her ability to describe depression in such heart wrenching and vivid detail highlights her writing talent.
Along with the instrumental and writing talent, Parks’ vocals on this track are fantastic. She has a smooth delivery, which also includes a level of emotional depth. Do not be surprised to see Hurt on the top 50 of 2021 and be on the lookout for Arlo Parks.
Listen to Hurt