Kela Parker is a singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist who is prone to unusual chord progressions that always find an unexpected resolution! Drawing deep into the roots of folk and Jazz while also reaching towards avant-garde, her previous efforts have been called “Genre-bending” and “Enigmatic”. However, with her third album release “The Dreamer & The Dream”, Kela Parker aims to show more intricacy to her artistry. Inspired by a character Kela Parker encountered in a dreamlike state, the fourteen tracks on 'The Dreamer & The Dream' weave effortlessly in and out of time, memory, place, and defy traditional boundaries of genre, creating a living tapestry of song that feels deeply anchored but also of the moment.
Recorded and produced in New York City with Grammy-winning engineer Rocky Gallo (Norah Jones, John Legend), Kela Parker played co-producer, writing and arranging all parts for her various bi-coastal bands in addition to playing piano, keys, guitars, and vocals. The result is a compendium of the artist's travels and an unexpected post-genre account of being a changing self in a changing landscape.
The album begins with songs “Seasons Out Of Synch” and “Song To My City”. Both shows great difference from one another, “Seasons Out Of Synch” was ambient and unsubstantial while “Song To My City” felt more soulful, slightly emotional, yet more realistic than the previous song on the album. The next two songs that transitions in are “Present Tense” and “Shadow Dance”. "Present Tense" immediately grasps you with Kela’s charming voice floating beautifully on top of a memorable and riveting guitar string-like instrumental. Striking falsetto notes, and timed pauses is just one of the many great qualities of the song.
“Shadow Dance”-one of my personal favorites, it's completely different from the previous 3 songs. Of course Kela Parker'd prepossessing voice is still intact, However the song is more of a delightful and upbeat tune refreshingly subsequent from the previous nomadic sounding songs. The next two songs to play are called “Water Is Near” and “In Wild, In You”. “Water Is Near” was an interesting atypical song. The beginning is more elegantly classical mixed with classic folk equipped with many transitions. Right before the idiosyncratic mesh of sounds begin, Kela serenades us with her voice in an Acapella manner completely absorbing us with her natural warm tone. “In Wild , In You” begins with allowing us to enjoy natural sound fx of the earth. Peaceful and relaxing and placing us in an tranquil environment. What’s so cool about this song is she allow us to enjoy the moment for a couple of seconds before she starts singing. You get completely lost in the surroundings of the music. Hands down my favorite song on the album due to the immediate serenity and seclusion she projects onto us.
The next two songs are “A Tilt of the Restless Earth” and “So Free”. “A Tilt of the restless earth” is a fast-paced, spaghetti western folk song that cultivates Kela’s entire personality and artistry. “So Free” has sensual energy fused with a suave flare. It’s individualistic on this album and holds its own, creating a memorable aspect for the single. Another one of my personal favorites. The next two songs to are “Can’t Cheat Fate” and “Wealth Of Heart”. I liked the sass and feisty tone of “Can’t Cheat Fate”. It’s abundantly charismatic but subtle. A great balance and great addition to the album. “Wealth of Heart” shows off Kela’s ability to connect with her lyricism. The songwriting of this song displays the artist intimacy. You’re able to connect with her far deeper than just the music. “I’ll be, at your side. You know I will” she sings. A love bop that’s stripped away from the depressing sounding tune that seems to be the norm nowadays with more subdued singles. It shows off her authenticity.
“Simple Species” and “Finally Found” are much different from one another but the ordering of the songs on the album is absolutely brilliant! Since "Simple Species" has more outgoing characteristics, "Finally Found" paints an arousing atmosphere with conspicuous trumpet noises much different from her folk brand she projects throughout the album. It proves, Kela Parker is a versatile artist with much to bring! The last two songs on the album are “Be a Child” and “The Art of Memory”. “Be A Child” showcases the whistle notes in Kela parker’s range, embodying her musicality to the fullest extent. “The Art of Memory” is the perfect finisher to the album. After being a part of Kela’s dream, experiencing the many different scenes and adventures. “The Art Of Memory” gives you a reflective ethereal while enjoying the augmented chords of the piano.
Kela turned her dream into a musical reality, and she’s sharing it for us all to experience.
You can listen to it here!
Check out our exclusive interview with Kela Parker below!
Mind introducing yourself to our readers?
I'm a singer-songwriter and plant nerd who has a black cat and lives in Los Angeles.
Knowing “The Dreamer and The Dream” was based off a character in your dream, do you mind going a little more in depth on the character so we can have a clear understanding on the inspiration behind this album!?
Sure! The original inspiration was when I meant to take a nap one afternoon, but instead of falling fully asleep, I went somewhere else, like I tumbled down a different tunnel. And it was like I was this character, but also observing him. He was a man, in an earlier era of history, definitely early America, and it was all so vivid, it was like another life. He felt like an ancestor, very familiar. Like I knew his life but I didn't know him, somehow. And so I was writing some songs during that time, and I kept feeling like I was writing into this other guy's perspective and his life. In some ways it was cool, because some of the songs felt rooted in folk forms and everything, so that made sense to draw from someone from history. But it also got sort of annoying, like I couldn't locate where my memory and perspective ended and where his began, whether I was writing about my life or his, or how his life affected mine, and who was he anyway? And finally I wrote this suite of choral pieces about him, where I actually named him (his name is Sam), and I told his story, and that helped sort of externalize him. Then he became what he really wanted to be, which was the guide for the album, its spirit. Like we had both been trying to drive and I had to drive because I'm the one in material reality (and a control freak perhaps), and he's the one who knows where it's going, the navigator. Then once we were in our roles, it worked better. The name of the album came from how the journey's origin was this experience of merging with something outside of yourself, through a slip in consciousness, so, it felt connected to the idea of how we are both the person experiencing our reality, and the "one" imagining it or bringing it into being. The one dreaming the dream, and the dreamer.
What was the most difficult aspect of putting together this project?
The trickiest thing was that I moved, multiple times, including moving across the country, over the course of the album. I started it in Portland, and finished it in New York, and then moved to Los Angeles before it was released. It was basically constant upheaval, which creates its own kind of obstacle to life in general and definitely to finishing projects. And in terms of the audio itself, it wasn't all recorded in the same room or situation. There were live sessions in both cities but also a lot of stuff from my bedroom in various places I stayed, and I collected parts from different musicians here and there, violin parts from a garage in Queens, my piano from a church in Brooklyn, horns and bass from my friend's studios, etc. So, on a technical level when I was working with Rocky on it in the studio, and in mastering with Alex, that was one of the challenges.
How excited were you to see the songs on this album come together as one?
In some ways it felt like pulling it all into an album felt like how making an album always does: the arbitrary ending to what is really just an ongoing process. Because the songs keep changing and you keep changing. But in particular with this one, it was a long time working on these songs with so many people in so many places, and it felt so ephemeral and like this amorphous thing that would just keep moving and shifting forever, so drawing the line and saying, "Yes, this is done," to have it become an actual "thing," was definitely satisfying. And necessary!
What are some of your personal favorites from the album?
"Song to My City" is a favorite to play live, though it's shifted from the album version by now. And "Be A Child" because it's dark and weird. Some of them, it depends if I'm playing solo or with a band--"Art of Memory" when I play with a full band is very cool to play, it becomes this whole moving underwater monster. And "Tilt of the Restless Earth."
How do you hope people perceive the album and the content?
Hmmm..I suppose I just want people to feel invited into having this experience with me. It's more like asking a question, starting a conversation, like, 'I just had this weird experience guys, what do you think?'
Any exciting plans for the new year?
Yes I'm working on planning some tour dates and finishing a book, and there will be a few individual songs released here and there too. Lots of different projects and things to get lost in
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