From the AllMusic review: “It’s likely that Parker will always have to scurry down musical rabbit holes, and travel sonic and textural backroads, but as evidenced by There’s a Bluebird in My Heart, he always seems to return to where his highly individual songwriting and playing take center stage. Lucky for us.”
One has to give Anders Parker credit for sticking to his guns. Since leaving Space Needle to create Varnaline in the mid-’90s, he’s stubbornly mined a vein that melds his considerable abilities as a songwriter and guitar player with a restless ear; he’s always loved experimentation and exploration, attempting to articulate all of the music he fancies. For four years he engaged in widely varying projects with mixed outcomes, including his 2010 ambient guitar album, Cross Latitudes; New Multitudes, his 2012 collaboration with Jay Farrar, Jim James, and Will Johnson, putting their collective spin on unseen Woody Guthrie lyrics; and 2013’s Wild Chorus, a pop duo album with Kendall Meade. With There’s a Blue Bird in My Heart, Parker circles to embrace his electric guitar and crafty songwriting again with excellent results. The electric piano and guitar hook on opener “The Road” have a soulful pop hook at their center, but they give way and open wide, evolving from dreamy neo-pysch country to sprawling, moody guitar rock that recalls his love for Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer.” “Animals” is chunky, spare, stomping, blues-tinged rock, equal parts Parker, Young, and the White Stripes. “Silver Yonder” is a tender, ethereal acoustic song with a ukulele and a Wurlitzer in the foreground, highlighting his stark vocal, echoed by a small chorus on the refrain. “Feel It” could be from a latter Varnaline record; its alt country vibe articulated by ringing acoustic and electric guitars, a warm drum kit, plodding bass, and Parker’s singing voice, sounding sweeter yet more disciplined than ever. There isn’t anything here that prepares one for the multi-faceted, simultaneously dreamy and crunchy prog-psych attack that is “Jackbooted Thugs (Have All the Best Drugs).” Here, melodic verses interchange with knotty guitar and drum sections, Wurlitzer echoes, echo effects, layered vocal harmonies, and squalling six-string solos that carry it through eight minutes of rock & roll glory. It’s likely that Parker will always have to scurry down musical rabbit holes, and travel sonic and textural backroads, but as evidenced by There’s a Bluebird in My Heart, he always seems to return to where his highly individual songwriting and playing take center stage. Lucky for us.
You can read the review here.