Abby Parks
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Abby Parks

Oxford, Alabama, United States | SELF

Oxford, Alabama, United States | SELF
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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Music

Press


"What marks a musical project as authentic is its degree of humanity--- and a new disc by Abby Parks touches several bases familiar to anyone of a reflective nature, through its ten tracks of stories, observations, and character sketches. Anchored solidly by a foundation of unerring and imaginative instrumentation, Parks' mid-range vocals sail powerfully on a confidence born of belief in her material. She draws from her own family histories to populate the narrative arc of her best tunes--- the war-era homefront of "Lambert Road", the ominous man-and-beast tragedy "Wild Dogs", and the title song itself, a joyful scrapbook celebration of her forebears' household. Parks casts herself in different guises to offer reflections on more specific themes--- she's a Paleolithic aboriginal in the grip of wary isolation, a frontier belle fantasizing love with a mysterious drifter, a blank and detached tabloid editor justifying the corrosive effects of contemporary celebrity worship.

Maybe it only seems this way to an older set of ears, but the album stands as a sampler of influences from a treasured selection of folk/pop performers dating as far back as the '70s--- whether intentional or not, several tracks bring to mind, by tone, melody or lyric, specific seminal artists whose finest work set the standards for what has come since. Woven throughout the record are aural traces of some groundbreaking women writers--- Sandy Denny, Kate Wolf, Linda Thompson... along with recalls of more unique stylists Juice Newton, Kristen Hall, and Caroline Aiken. This ain't at all bad--- it's more a delightful suggestion of flavors, akin to detecting that someone across the street is baking cinnamon bread, or grilling steaks.

Production is first-rate on the record, above all a clean mix, with judicious application of unusual effects and atmospheric touches. The songs are melodic, with just enough unexpected chord changes and tempo breaks to keep the repertoire engaging. This CD shows a lot of focused work and natural talent, and indicates that there are even better things to come from this quickly developing artist." - Keith Harrelson, Moonlight On The Mountain Venue, Birmingham, AL


"Give it up for Abby Parks, an artful writer and guitarist with a voice that could very well part the sea of kudzu leading out of Jacksonville, AL. With her debut cd, The Homeplace, Abby doesn’t hang her hat on just one peg but shows this is indeed her album musically, vocally and lyrically—quite the tri-fecta, and she scores on all points." - Phil Pyle, contributor


"Abby Parks mixes secular and religious themes on The Homeplace, blending them with strong songwriting, an earthy voice that is intriguing and comforting and a story-telling style that is appealing and accessible. Where Faith is an issue on The Homeplace, it's simply an honest expression of Parks as she is rather than attempt to proselytize; the honesty and unassuming grace is refreshing. Musically, the album is highly crafted and perfectly presented. Abby Parks is a distinctive talent. If you like pure singer/songwriter and folk material, then The Homeplace is definitely for you."
- Wildy's World


"THE HOMEPLACE is a marvelous gem, each song a facet that sparkles brilliantly on its own, but as a whole Abby has created something of great value." - Allen Foster, editor


Reviewer: Gerald Van Waes, host of "Psyche Van Het Folk", Radio Centraal, Antwerp, Belgium

"(Abby) is able to make the necessary matured songs that have an inner strength that can grow in any direction. " - www.psychefolk.com


Reviewer: Jason Bennett

"This is a very impressive debut from an obviously gifted songwriter and guitarist. 'Western Desert Sun' is about as close to a debut masterpiece as you will find. Textured landscapes of cactus, prairie wind and some fine, delicate guitar playing accompany Ms. Parks on a journey, which I am happy to say, is just beginning. Keep an eye on Abby, as it appears that her music will be around for a long time." www.bennettfolk.com

- Bennettfolk.com


Discography

LP: Moving On (2005)
LP: The Homeplace (2009)

Photos

Bio

There were undoubtedly many factors that led Alabama folk singer Abby Parks into the craft of songwriting. One was her Southern heritage, born to a mother whose native Georgia roots made for a rich story-telling tradition that fueled Abby’s imagination from a young age and gave her a back-door appreciation for the art of oral tradition. Add to this an inborn passion for music, originally sparked by listening to popular radio of the seventies and old vinyl LP’s of great artists such as Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, CSNY, Fleetwood Mac, and Judy Collins. Top that off with a life spent moving with her family from the age of ten onwards to live in a vast array of locations including Maryland, Colorado, Germany, and even England—and you have the necessary ingredients to create a colorful variety of story songs drawing on family, culture, and music tradition.

Born in Durham, North Carolina, Abby Parks first developed an ear for music (believe it or not) as a baby, rocking in her car seat every time she heard “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart come on the radio. That was just the beginning. Her love of music grew the more she heard it, resulting in her parents giving her a guitar for her 12th birthday while living in Germany. She began lessons as a teen while living in Maryland and turned her attention to classical guitar after hearing the music of Christian singer and classical guitarist John Michael Talbot. Having been involved in school and church choirs that developed her voice, Parks began singing Talbot songs solo with her guitar in church and then majored in classical guitar at Colorado Christian University in Denver. She also studied piano, voice, and music composition and performed in the 6-part harmony group Profile. Another of her passions—creative writing—was explored in college as she studied literature as a second major and wrote poetry, short stories, plays, and even a novel that was published in 2002. After a hiatus from college studies while living in the U.K., she achieved Bachelor’s degrees in music performance and English at Jacksonville State University in Alabama.

There were many paths she could have taken with the musical knowledge she had gained, but Abby Parks had developed a great affection for songs she’d heard that were in the folk and songwriting traditions, particularly by artists like Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins. Lyrics that told stories and delved deeper into the human psyche than typical pop songs gave her a desire to take her music in that direction. By the time she had moved to the U.K. with her family in 1995, Parks had enough songs under her belt to begin performing live and she ventured onto Danny Kyle’s stage in 2000 at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Scotland. Finally settling back in the southeast in Alabama, Parks released her debut CD Moving On and performed throughout the southeast in venues ranging from coffeehouses and churches to theaters, clubs, and festivals.

As her songwriting matured, Abby Parks turned her attention to the rich southern heritage she can lay claim to, having reacquainted herself with the South as an Alabama resident. Stories told to her throughout her life about her family’s background became the source for many of her songs off her latest CD The Homeplace, including the title track “The Homeplace,” “Lambert Road,” and “Wild Dogs.” Recorded at Huntsville’s Sound Cell Studio, The Homeplace was produced with the help of Doug Jansen Smith (Take 6, Brian McKnight, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Phil Collins). The CD features imaginative instrumentation accompanying her unique finger-style guitar playing, creating an evocative atmosphere for Parks to spin reflective narratives in song.

Beyond her songwriting and performing career, Abby Parks is a private guitar teacher at the Donoho School and the Cheaha Creative Arts Center. She is a member of both the Folk Alliance and the Roots Music Association, and over the years has taken up the mandolin, banjo, and bass. She has also delved into theater roles in legendary musicals including Fiddler on the Roof, The Fantastiks, Little Shop of Horrors, and Oklahoma.