MAY WE talk of one of the artists to properly keep an eye on in ’21? We may? Excellent.
Arlo Parks grew up in South-West London, a self-confessed tomboy, super-sensitive, who sums her teenage self up as “a black kid who can’t dance for shit, listens to emo music and currently has a crush on some girl in my Spanish class.” By age 17, she’d shaved her head and written an album’s worth of material.
She’s also deeply literary; she wrote short stories as a child, created fantasy worlds; kept a journal, read Ginsberg and Jim Morrison. These days she references Nayyirah Waheed, Hanif Abdurraqib and Iain S Thomas as her favourite modern poets. She also has a great deal of time for Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, of which she says, “the way Murakami writes in that book is how I aspire to write my songs; gritty and sensitive and human.”
Her formative listening was equally deep and broad: Fela Kuti’s “Water Get No Enemy” and Otis Redding’s “(Sittin On) The Dock Of The Bay” were joined by King Krule, Kendrick Lamar, MF Doom; Hendrix, Bowie, Sufjan Stevens. They all fed into her songcraft.
“I would write stories so detailed you could taste them, while maintaining the energy and life of the hip-hop I loved,” she says.
And she’s released her third single of the year, “Caroline”, the video for which you can watch below, not so many weeks ahead of her debut album for Transgressive, Collapsed In Sunbeams, which is out on January 29th.
The lyric video showcases her bright and breathy voice, her brilliantly erudite way with a lyrical tale and a chorus that throws its arms aloft.
Arlo says: “’Caroline’ is an exercise in people watching and seeing situations unfold without context. It’s an exploration of how something once full of healthy passion can dissolve in an instant.”
Speaking about her debut LP, she adds: “My album is a series of vignettes and intimate portraits surrounding my adolescence and the people that shaped it.
“It is rooted in storytelling and nostalgia – I want it to feel both universal and hyper-specific.”
With the UK dates of her April and May tour next year completely sold out, she’s added a clutch of new record store dates for next summer – oh, she’s also on the bill for End of the Road in early September.
The extra dates are as follows:
July 27th, 2021, Norwich, The Waterfront, with HMV;
August 1st, Dundee, Fat Sam’s, with Assai Records;
August 3rd, Liverpool, Arts Club, with Jacaranda;
August 5th, Coventry, The Empire, with HMV;
August 10th, Kingston upon Thames, Pryzm, with Banquet, and
August 17th, O2 Academy2, Oxford, with Truck Store.
Arlo Parks’ Collapsed In Sunbeams will be released by Transgressive Records on January 29th on digital, cassette, CD and limited edition vinyl and is available to pre-order here.