James Clarke Five – Parlour Sounds

Purchase James Clarke Five: Parlour Sounds from BandCamp.

Every once in a while, upon a crystal-clear sky inhabited by a brilliant blue moon, an album comes along that just puts a smile on your face. Regardless of how carefully you analyze the music and dissect it to see what makes it tick, it still comes back to a big, wide grin and a soft glow in the heart. James Clarke Five’s “Parlour Sounds” is that album for 2019.

It’ so sweet, so tuneful, so uplifting…imagine a lost Sir Paul McCartney album, circa “McCartney” and “Ram,” with Ray Davies stopping by to contribute his cabaret-leaning eccentricities. You get it immediately on the opening track, where it feels like the Lord of Lounge Music, Martin Denny, has dropped in to add a little vibraphone. It has the bouncy, pure, innocent “Penny Lane” rejuvenating and restorative powers that are present in the best-aged tracks in McCartney’s mammoth legacy.

Cupid always knows where to aim his arrow…and the sound of this album is a brightly-colored bullseye directly over the right ventricle of every music lover who ever mentally strode down Abbey Road.

I can’t give you a track-by-track rundown on this one, because hearkening back to the days when I’d find promo copies of albums in record shops with the “suggested tracks” sticker on the front, this sticker would read “ALL of them.” It’s an album, an experience, you won’t want to cherry-pick tracks…just sit back, relax, and prepare yourself for 39 minutes of uninterrupted euphoria.

It even includes a couple of pure McCartney-isms, the instrumental “Theme From The Main Chance,” a mash-up between the soundtracks of a classic Hammer Horror film and a James Bond movie, plus “Jade Fade,” a jaunty reprise of the track “Jade.”

It’s a love letter to the music we love. Thank you on behalf of the group and myself…they passed the audition. You need this. You’ll want it too, but you more importantly, you need it.