Alan Parsons - From the New World
by Kevin Wierzbicki
Parsons returns with an excellent new album that will please his longtime fans and bring new ones into the fold. The effort begins with the slow and sublime "Fare Thee Well," a song very much in the style of past gems like "Time" before moving on to "The Secret," a cut where Parsons shows his penchant for mysterious lyrics, a memorable chorus and an overall arrangement that would fit perfectly alongside his past hits and radio favorites. As he normally does, Parsons employs a host of singers on the new material, including David Pack of Ambrosia, the oft-featured lead vocalist from the Alan Parsons Live Project P.J. Olsson, James Durbin of "American Idol" fame, Todd Cooper who also plays sax on the album, and of course, himself. Many will see Styx singer Tommy Shaw as the star vocalist on the album as he takes the microphone for "Uroboros," a cut with classic Parsons hallmarks like enigmatic lyrics, hooks galore and an ethereal prog rock melody. Another big name guest is Joe Bonamassa; the guitarist adds a solo to the lush but understated "Give 'em My Love" where Durbin takes the lead vocal. A similar vibe permeates "I Won't be Led Astray" with Bonamassa's emotive solo heightening the song's "what's happening to our love" theme, with Pack singing lead. "You Are the Light" is a great pop rocker with fluid harmony vocals while "Halos" uses percolating guitar riffs to set the mood for another bit of classic Parsons, this time leaning toward the robot-esque. A lot of fans will likely be thrown for a loop as Parsons wraps up the album with a take on the great Ronettes hit "Be My Baby," here with Tabitha Fair singing the part originally sung by the late Ronnie Spector. The cover is very well done but some will feel that it doesn't "fit" here; those with that opinion should consider two things, firstly that Parsons can structure his art any way that he wants to. The other thought is that Parsons is, of course, a revered producer, and perhaps this is an homage not only to Ronnie Spector but also to producer Phil Spector. Spector died disgraced and in prison in 2021 but the fact that he was convicted of murder does not negate the groundbreaking production work he did decades before, something that Parsons clearly understands.