Peter Parcek

Peter Parcek
The Mathematics of Love

RedStar/VizzTone

By Mike Mellor
June 2010

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The Mathematics of Love is a tricky thing.

Yes, it's a guitar record made by one of the most underrated players out there, but that may not mean what you think it does. The record doesn't have the kind of calibrated and showy “look Ma, no hands!” noodling that mysteriously passes for inspirational guitar work these days. Instead, Parcek's songs have layers of thoughtful, subtle, genre-bending guitar work that weave intricate textures around the rhythm section.

Similarly, Parcek's vocals are undoubtedly “bluesy” but not in that faux-ladies' man jive turkey way. His voice is soft, his sentiment is weary, and he delivers introspective lyrics with a humility that emphasizes the reality of what contemporary blues as art should be—hard-earned, balanced, humble and smart.

In other words, it is blues as grown folk's music—possessing inspiration, direction and the touch of experience to get it right.

The covers on the record are case in point. It seems Parcek knew he couldn't sing an equivalent to Ray Charles' power on “Busted” or Lucinda Williams' rasp on “Get Right with God” so he made them instrumentals and layered ferocious guitar tracks to give the songs wallop. With similar reverence to the visceral powers of Jessie Mae Hemphill and Kokomo Arnold, Parcek mellowed out “Lord Help the Poor and Needy” and “Kokomo Me Baby” and gave them both an ethereal, contemporary and ambient feel (kudos to producer Ted Drozdowski on all counts).

And that's not to downplay the originals, because “Tears Like Diamonds” and “Rollin' with Zah” will knock your socks off, too.

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