James Parenti is an accomplished musician who just released his best album yet entitled You Look Like Hell. Can I first say that I love the title. It made me chuckle. You Look Like Hell is a dense twelve-song album that is warm, melancholy, inspired and emotionally resonant.
It also doesn't hurt that the recording quality and production is top notch. It seems like the instrumentation was close mic’d as it feels like Parenti is playing right next to you.
“Brownout” is the opener and my hopes were high once I heard the guitar picking and vocals. Parenti’s vocals are hushed and intimate as his lyrics will most likely conjure up images of romantic relationships you have been in. The song’s intensity raises but slowly and with just enough restraint until the post-rock infused climax.
Parenti shifts the momentum with more energy on “Drove All Night” and then goes into a nighttime slumber with the peaceful and soothing “I Know.” “Bones” is hopeful yet covered in melancholy which is a combination I’m quite a fan of.
A highlight and possibly the most infectious song is “Nothing Again.” The vocal melody stuck with me after its first play through. “Grew So High” moves slowly and it feels meditative. Luckily, Parenti has learned how to pace an album. The energy increases with “Doorframe” and “You Do, You Can” really moves at a faster BPM with kinetic percussion.
The title track is atmospheric, epic and perhaps the most textured and the album closes with “Hope That You Know” which contains some killer lead guitar.
I think the two aspects that really came together for me was the flow of the album and how cohesive it felt. Albums that have this type of arch are critically acclaimed for a reason. OK computer, The Wall, Nevermind and many other albums have this in there and people may only appreciate them on a subconscious level.
Overall, You Look Like Hell is an exceptional effort. Recommended.
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