With Van Dyke Parks’ new Songs Cycled (Bella Union), the renowned composer, arranger and vocalist (in that order), not only releases his first album of originals since 1995’s Orange Crate Art (with Brian Wilson singing), but lends his usually complex creations a renewed sense of simplicity. The thoughts may be determinedly complicated and touched by the soul of social protest, but Parks’ music is deliciously direct, while remaining as elegant as anything he’s done for himself (à la 1968’s chamber-pop initiator Song Cycle) or others (the Beach Boys and Rufus Wainwright amongst them). Parks will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature with him.
Parks: This reveals the Fifth Beatle (John Lennon’s “favorite group”), in his prodigious entire life’s work. Just released, it’s a consoling, sometimes troubling, always engaging tribute to Harry. It reveals the man (smartest fella I’ve met in music) and the boy within. Rock, R&B and orchestral splendors. It’s an olio of seamless genre-hopping, confirming the American dream … skipping over the ocean like a stone.