Don’t take it personally if singer-songwriter Arlo Parks is apologizing for a party, industry function, or awards show, as there’s a good chance it’s just because she decided to write something on a napkin or dictate a string of words to him applying the phone’s voice memos from the edge of the toilet echo or from a breezy rooftop terrace. As she says, “lightning can strike at any time.”

That string of words she left with you in the middle of a conversation to write and remember could turn into a song on an album that could earn her a prestigious accolade like the Mercury Prize, which honors the best album released in the UK. United and that’s what the 21-year-old Londoner returned home earlier this month for her stunning debut record collapsed in the rays of the sun.

But more than a prize, that phrase turned into a song turned into an album could pop out of its vinyl case or streaming device to hold you, much like Robin Williams in Goodwill hunting. Williams ‘therapeutic mantra “It’s not your fault,” mirrors Parks’ heartwarming refrain, “You won’t suffer so much, so much forever.” And above all she is right. It won’t hurt that much, forever.

Parks, who grew up on the road to the Eventim Apollo, where the Mercury Prize festivities take place every year, recalls riding his bike past the venue to see which big names were playing. This month the marquee read, “Congratulations, Arlo Parks,” something the poet describes as a loop moment.

“I used to cycle past this place every year on my way to school,” she says. “There’s a church nearby where I would do, you know, like some Christmas carol services… To be honest, it hasn’t quite gone down yet. My parents were in the crowd and when they did. started describing the winner, my ears My table, my etiquette, everyone was panicking. But I just felt like I was floating. ”

Following remarks by Irish DJ and TV host Annie McManus, who called Parks a “singular voice” artist who writes lyrics of “remarkable beauty to tackle complex themes of mental health and sexuality” and who makes demonstrating quiet strength “in an extroverted world of noise,” Parks gave a brief speech in which she thanked her parents and referred to the uncertain journey of writing lyrics in her childhood bedroom to accept a previously award. awarded to artists such as PJ Harvey, Portishead, Pulp and Antony and the Johnsons.

This feeling of success is one that holds true for all that the proper name collapsed in the rays of the sun embodies, which includes, but is not limited to: embracing the words of Thom Yorke; trying to help someone who doesn’t want help; to love someone who does not want to love; self-sabotage; the eyes of Robert Smith; the joy of pancakes; cry over Taco Bell; fall half in love; Sylvia Plath; the combination of apricots and blunts; compare scars; crappy parents; need space; the healing power of moonstones; dodge the tombstones; set limits; and not be afraid to cry in front of someone.

A confident record written mostly in isolation and described by Pitchfork as blending into “a pleasant sort of monotony”, collapsed in the rays of the sun is both universal and painfully specific. We often have the impression that Parks writes a “ru ok?” text to his entire generation, the same generation whose second cause of death is suicide and which has a higher rate of depression than the others.

On “Black Dog”, a song named by NME as the “most devastating song of 2020,” Parks wishes to “lick the sorrow” off her lover’s lips. “Just take your meds and eat food / I’ll do anything to get you out of your room.” On “Hope”, Parks insists “we all have scars, I know it’s difficult / You are not alone, you are not alone as you think.” On the penultimate track of the album “Bluish”, she pleads her case for needing space. “It’s not easy when you call me in the middle of the night / When I say I need space / I shouldn’t have to ask you twice.”

Parks, who unsurprisingly worships poets like Patti Smith and the late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith at the altar, artfully balances direct confrontation with sanity while reassuring his listeners that, when they’re ready, there is a tunnel and there is a light at the end, and you can bask in its warmth. Maybe that’s why she was named CALM’s 2020 Mental Health Ambassador, a role that has undoubtedly solidified the singer as someone we think we can turn to.

“Well, it’s happened to me a lot, actually,” Parks said of fans turning to her for advice. “Especially when it comes to doing shows and being physically with people. And I think it’s about striking that balance between recognizing that, for example, being able to save someone or to take someone out of a dark space in your music is a beautiful thing. And also to try not to take full responsibility for the well-being of others on yourself. ”

She adds, “For me, it was just about setting boundaries. It was about having conversations when I feel emotionally capable of doing so. I just surround myself with people I can talk to about things. if it ever gets too hard and just have a support system and be able to say no when the going is too hard. ”

There is a direct line between how Parks sees the world and when she realized that poetry was the vehicle she would choose to express herself and reach others. Parks doesn’t remember the exact time this happened, but she reckons it was around 12 or 13 years after an English teacher gave her an anthology of Plath, which she admits be quite difficult to digest at this young age.

“I think what I liked [Sylvia] was the fact that she had such a singular voice, ”she said. “And I realized what I liked was energy. I didn’t necessarily have an interest in writing a plot or following a thread that way. I just liked the words, and like, how you could be moved by a single sentence when it came to poetry. So I explored William Buroughs and Diane di Prima and the Beats and then it kind of evolved up to now, I guess. I realized that poetry doesn’t have to be rigid. It can be just about anything. ”

Parks grew up to American tunes, especially Motown sounds, which produced poetry in their own right. She remembers the Motown music in her house when she was a child, her father a fan of the Temptations and Marvin Gaye, while her mother was a follower of the great Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder.

“I feel like for me it has become that familiar sound like there’s a real warm feeling,” Parks said of Motown. “So when I was working on the record I would come back to some of these albums a lot, and it made me feel a little bit comfortable and safe, like I was home. And I think that to me. allowed to go to deeper places in the record. ”

Except for a trip to LA and what she thinks was a trip to Miami or to “Disneyworld or Disneyland” when she was 5, Parks will bring collapsed in the rays of the sun to the United States for her first real tour of the country and the first stop of many on her way to do all things, be all things, kind of like dust floating in the air, dancing in, well, the rays of the sun, while pumping as much calming beauty into the world as possible. You know, like a typical 21 year old, what Parks proves doesn’t exist.

Of her future plans, Parks says she expects to do a bit of everything. “I have worked on myself a lot, but when it comes to the distant future, I kind of like the idea of ​​being a little polymath and taking the time to write a book or write a book. ‘love it, to be in a movie or write a screenplay, “she said.” You know what I mean? Like Donald Glover’s vibes. That’s kind of what I want to do. But yes, I try to take each day as it comes. So far, it’s definitely a whirlwind. ”


Arlo Parks will perform at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, September 29 at El Club; 4114 Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-757-7942; elclubdetroit.com. Tickets cost $ 22.

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