With his latest album Things to Come, Nashville talent Jeremy Parsons looks both backwards and forwards. It’s a release that drips with longing and evocative memories of a simpler past headed towards a more complex future, and sometimes futures cut short. Starting with a mellow but effective titular opening (Things to Come,) Parsons sets the stage for the subsequent nine tracks. It’s a mellow approach with Parsons noting that he’s in a different place in his life. It’s not that golden days are gone, they’ve just served their purpose and now we’re moving on. To what exactly? Parsons can’t say. He’s certainly far and away from being braggadocious enough to give himself early praise for his accomplishments that he’ll inevitably a-crew, and he’s already got plenty to be proud of having opened for legends like George Jones, but Parsons remains humble all the same. It’s a calming album allowing for a cathartic release of anxieties and maybe parts of us we don’t see reflected enough in music, let alone country music. This isn’t what many people could misinterpret as “modern country.”
Save for one mention of beer and weed (“Sit and Spin”), you won’t hear mention of trucks, blonde women, and daisy dukes. Parsons is cut from a more classic creed of country, where storytelling was the most important aspect and the sense of melancholy was palpable. With the track “Tragedy” Parsons expounds on both the gristly loss of a life and the unfortunate lack of insight that can come with it, even asking in disbelief if it’s “tragedy or reality.”
The album may come across repetitive from time to time, but you can tell each song was a labor of love as indicated with the stylistic lyrics and wonderful precise and smooth production. Each song has a clear sense of progression, and while the arrangements never really veer out of your standard drums, acoustic and electric guitar, it’s of great service considering it allows us to hone in and focus on Parsons lyrics which really are the stars of the show. There’s a certain joy to watch Parsons unpack life’s complexities, not with an innocence, but a relatable shoulder nudge of “you know what I mean?” such as in the track Lillian, where Parsons details a relationship with the eponymous Lillian who is a walking contradiction who he can’t make sense of, before coming to the realization that he’s not too dissimilar from a certain point of view.
If I could describe Parsons’ approach to capturing nuances, it’s like that of an anthropologist. He’s always self-aware enough to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and how it relates to himself, and he’s often critical of the latter. Beginning with the sound of a bong rip, his track “Issues” gets candid about passing lessons learned, although it’s never clear if Parsons is passing this onto the listener, or if he is or was the recipient at some point. Parsons doesn’t know what’s coming next, but he’s prepared for it, not guarded but ready to roll with the punches, and this album is a compelling invitation to do the same.
by Bethany Page