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Larkin Grimm

Parplar

(Young God; US: 28 Oct 2008; UK: Available as import)

It is probably easiest to call Larkin Grimm a folk singer, but doing that fails to capture just how difficult she is to pin down. She can play the solitary, sad ballad like any good folk singer, as on opener “They Were Wrong”. But once she lets out that sadness, she seems to cut free of it, and the rest of Parplar is a fiery and energetic challenge to the listener. She plays on images on femininity in songs like “Blond and Golden Johns” and “Dominican Rum”, sneering at the artifice of hyper-sexuality and cosmetic surgery. And when she’s not full of that infectious defiance, she is all wide-eyed joy. Her take on the traditional “Fall on Your Knees” insists that you stomp on the floor. “My Justine” is a convergence of any stringed instrument you can think of, and they ride a rocky road under Grimm as her vocals rise to the astral plane. Throughout the record, Portland, Maine collective Fire on Fire back up Grimm, and their loose, spaced out folk is the perfect background for Grimm’s earthen sound. And while you might be inclined to throw her into the freak-folk movement, what she’s doing taps naturally into something much older, something distinctly southern, that she brought with her down from her childhood Appalachia. The sound of Parplar is not one that Grimm found and latched onto. It is a sound that lives deep in her blood. It is the only sound she could make, and she does it brilliantly.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


Tagged as: larkin grimm | parplar
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