- Reid Parsons, No. Blood
I must begin with a confession: I struggle with the vocabulary of genre. I know what I like, but trying to define it — folk? Americana? indie pop? all of the above? — makes me feel like an impostor. How lucky, then, that I had the chance to review Reid Parsons' dynamic new EP, No. Blood. It has the vibes of a cozy evening show at Burlington's Radio Bean and zero concern with fitting a category.
Parsons has a wide-ranging musical résumé. Growing up in Moretown and Waitsfield, she played saxophone and studied jazz. In college, she sang in a Motown group and wrote a thesis on Americana and bluegrass musicians. (She even draws her own album artwork.)
On this EP, Parsons' second, she enlists the help of Steve Simollardes on electric guitar, Luke Fox on bass and Trevor Michalak on drums. They recorded live at Burlington's Tank Studios.
Parsons has a voice like an elevator shaft, nimble with a natural reverb. With a warble here and a crack there, she packs emotion into these songs. On the opening track, "Can't Find the Ground," her vocals and the drums crest and crash, reinforcing the swell of feeling in the lyrics as she sings, "When I look at you, I start to drown, my feet can't find the ground."
Parsons brings the listener back to Earth with a cover of Jason Isbell's ballad "Cover Me Up," a wrenching love song about hard living and redemption.
The tone changes on "No. Blood" — an abbreviation of "northern blood." It opens with a downright groovy intro and a more vocally playful Parsons, almost like an early Lake Street Dive tune. That playfulness turns to joy on "Here Comes My Baby," an album high point that evokes full-throated love. The EP ends with a cover of the Bill Withers hit "Ain't No Sunshine."
No. Blood as a whole is not particularly cohesive; it's more of a highlight reel than an exploration of any particular theme. Fans of Jade Bird and Julia Jacklin will enjoy it. I'll be interested to see how Parsons' vision and sound mature on future recordings — though, as noted, I appreciate any artist who can successfully straddle the lines of genre. Parsons undoubtedly draws from plenty of talents and influences, and I bet she puts on a fun and satisfying live performance.
No. Blood is available on Spotify and other streaming services. Parsons performs on Thursday, August 5, at the Intervale Center in Burlington as part of the Summervale event series.