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An Old Soul Comes To Life: A Review of Musician Katrina Parker
A woman singing about love in Los Angeles could come across as an immature Hollywood dime-a-dozen singer songwriter, trying to cathartically exorcise her adolescent travails through whiny chords. After all, songs about love and its torments are not often unique, especially in a city which extols the virtues of youth and their transient obsessions. In order to contrast this, the indie scene produced a number of strong women, singing about anti-love with a viciousness which rivaled the intensity of the love song’s passion. These two opposing themes combined to create a cacophony of noise in the every day music scene.
Through the whine and angry whir created by this scene emerged the quiet, controlled, whimsical voice of Katrina Parker, a woman who is neither obsessed with her own romantic affairs nor afraid to be a sensual, romantic individual. She sings love songs, but she sings them with realistic optimism and an adult perspective on her own emotional world, capturing the heart and spirit of the women of her generation in a way that other singer songwriters often fail to accomplish.
Katrina’s ability to transcend the stereotypes that she could have easily been caught in may come directly from the dual nature of her personality. She is a modern Los Angeles woman with an old soul which seems to be intricately linked with the ancient past. Her musical influences include a range of voices from the long-standing traditional hymns of old church choirs to the modern sounds of Jonatha Brooke and Fiona Apple. Her lyrics are sometimes hopefully romantic (as in All We Need ’s optimistic belief that love is enough to make a relationship work) and sometimes painfully realistic (as in Killing Me ’s quiet realization that sometimes there is nothing one can do to ease the pain of another, no matter how much they love them.)
Listening to her songs, one gets the sense that Katrina is not someone who flits from one side of the emotional spectrum to the other but rather is someone who has worked to develop the wholeness of her personality and who embraces self-understanding regarding all aspects of her emotional life. She seems to embrace her own contradictions and to work to reconcile them. This is demonstrated through her musical genre, which is neither pop nor jazz but rather a unique fusion of the two, also partially influenced by country greats like Patsy Cline and modern folk rock artists such as Over the Rhine. The best thing about Katrina’s music is that just when you start to think that you’ve got an idea of where she is going with a piece, she allows the opposite side of her personality to emerge.
This duality is reflected not only in the genre changes of her music but also in similar shifts in her lyrics, the speed of her songs and the way in which she mixes her deeply melodic voice with her own piano music. Most of her songs start off with a piano introduction which sets the mood for the piece in almost the same way that background music creates the setting for movie scenes. In the same way that filmmakers can build up the emotions within viewers through their use of the right complimentary music, Katrina uses her piano playing skills to enhance the listener’s experience of her song.
She then brings the story in to the song with her captivating, almost supernatural voice. Though it has been described by people as haunting, her voice is less ghostly than it is mystical. It is almost as if her soul traveled in a straight line from an ancient past life to her modern spirit, carrying with it the potency of a dramatic past combined with the wisdom of self-realization. Lyrically, she sums it up best herself in Thinking It Over when she says, “There’s a thousand words now in the way of all the things we have to say from here.” Despite the apparent simplicity of many of her lyrics, the depth of emotion within her songs simply cannot be easily summed up in words.
Unfortunately, Katrina Parker has been quiet recently. She was very active with her music just a few years ago but her MySpace and Facebook pages have been fairly quiet in the past two years. Hopefully she hasn’t given up on her musical career; it’s certainly a tough world out there for musicians. More likely, however, she’s been gathering the life experience necessary to make good music. If that’s the case, she will likely return with a bang, bringing those fresh experiences to life will retaining that old world style that her soul simply can’t seem to repress.