John Parish's list of musical accomplishments is long, yet for years the self-effacing Bristol native has been happy outside the spotlight. This twice Ensor nominated composer and Mercury Prize winning producer delivers a collection of songs, including a duet with his longtime musical partner PJ Harvey, that should change all that. Bird Dog Dante was completed in a busy year for Parish. On top of being the musical director of the extended PJ Harvey band on their Hope Six Demolition Project world tour, he produced acclaimed albums for This is the Kit, Nadine Khouri, and Aldous Harding.
Parish records songs as they come to him, often with the intent of just capturing the idea. "Like all of my records, Bird Dog Dante was recorded all over the place in odd situations, because I'll have an idea somewhere and want to record it, then I actually end up liking the sound of that specific recording and want to incorporate it," says Parish. While a few of the tracks began with the band in Toybox in Bristol, often they were then deconstructed in Parish's home studio. John's producer's ear can focus on a small detail that captures his imagination, which then becomes the foundation to build the song around.
On "Rachel," "Aldous Harding's beautiful backing vocals were recorded on my phone backstage at her Jools Holland show. I'd been asked to play piano for her, and while we had time to kill in the dressing room before the performance I thought ‘let's just do the backing vocals now' – so while listening to the track on my iPhone, she sang into her iPhone. Those vocals were literally recorded with two phones and a pair of earbuds." John's ability to see things for what they are and delight in the details is what makes his work so singular. Exemplified by the album title's origin, words that just sounded good together, John is an exceptionally skilled artist with a youthful delight and a creative open mind, as well as the ability to masterfully expand on those ideas.
John's recent solo records were instrumental, and mostly included works composed for film. While Bird Dog Dante contains a few pieces written for film, it is his first song oriented album in nearly a decade. Working while touring allowed him to bounce lyrics off his long time musical partner PJ Harvey. On "Sorry for Your Loss," a song about their close friend Mark Linkous, it seemed only fitting to take it further and sing the song as a duet. With his eclectic recording locations and process, Parish brought cohesion to the album by mixing it in a 10 day stretch between bouts of touring. The music is gentle and quiet, not unlike its creator, and its heft comes through its emotional depth and its subtle delights from unexpected sound choices and processing.