Patrick Park Loneliness Knows My Name

[Downward Road/Hollywood; 2003]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: singer-songwriter, classic rock, indie folk
Others: Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley, Ed Harcourt, Gram Parsons, Alex Chilton

With the passing of Elliott Smith, any hope for deliverance from the current crop of ersatz singer-songwriters now seems utterly lost. And while he’s not nearly as hopelessly morose nor as melodically inventive as the now fallen master of mope-pop, Patrick Park is one of the rare artists that manages to speak with his own voice from the first time he opens his mouth; and Loneliness Knows My Name is a powerful statement of intent.

Interestingly, Park has most often drawn comparisons to another tragically lost singer-songwriter, Jeff Buckley, as he possesses a similarly expressive voice and dramatic sensibility. Equally comfortable with lush strings and intricate fingerpicking (“Your Smile’s A Drug”) as he is with muscular guitars (“Honest Skrew”) and bluesy-slide playing (“Sons of Guns”), Park possesses a perfectly restless spirit, never inhabiting a piece of creative ground long enough to cast a categorizable shadow. 

Without a doubt, some of the same ghosts that once haunted Elliott Smith are hanging around the edges of “Past Poisons” and the perfectly aching “Nothing’s Wrong,” with Park finding a light airy counterpoint to Smith’s resigned despair. Before it’s over, Park will have twisted his nakedly personal verse around a Celtic-leaning mandolin melody and a rising chorus of horns in “Silver Girl” and embraced a gospel choir for the soulful “Home for Now,” emerging as an alternately austere and amiable narrator.

All in all, it’s an impressively varied and profoundly confident release that aspires to the timeless hallmarks of the genre. At this stage in the game, Park's not doing anything that hasn’t been done before; but his ability to be confessional but not cloying, bold but not bland is his music’s definitive feature. In a world where David Gray, Damien Rice, and John Mayer constitute the vanguard of the singer-songwriter movement, Patrick Park is a true talent to be reckoned with.

1. Thunderbolt
2. Honest Skrew
3. Sons of Guns
4. Nothing's Wrong
5. Your Smile's a Drug
6. Something Pretty
7. Silver Girl
8. Desperation Eyes
9. Past Poisons
10. Bullets by the Door
11. Home for Now
12. Untitled

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