Larkin Grimm - Parplar - David Cowling

There's nothing grim about this collection

Grimm opens this record like a hard to like acolyte of Devendra Banhart but she soon outstrips him, she passes and presses all manner of genres squeezing the ordinary to extract the magical. Her voice swoops, seduces, screeches, soothes, charms and at times her tongue twists through your auditory canal and tickles your brain. "Blond and Golden John" twitters and chimes, the relaxed sensual "Dominican Rum" has playful waves of barrelhouse piano at odds with the lyrics that at one point describe the pus emanating from her uterus (did I mention she¹s earthy too). The breadth of her experience from hippy commune to Yale, Guatemala, the Appalachian Mountains and Thailand leeches into the songs, twisting them always away from the mundane and towards the exotic, "Parplar" sounds like it was recorded in a rainforest where displaced New Orleans jazzmen are recuperating.

Oriental influences splash but don¹t swamp - "My Justine" it sounds like Chinese folk music being played over a Steve Reich small group piece and it is compelling and strangely beautiful. Appalachia thrusts its mountainous head into "Fall On My Knees" a rubbery hoedown, speaking tongues and tape manipulation make "How to Catch a Lizard" sound like something a modern Alice in Wonderland would sing after she has stepped through the looking glass. The album feels like a journey and it takes the closing "Hope for the Hopeless" the most conventional song here to remind the listener what a diverse and thrilling ride it was.