In the opening line of the title track, Mel Parsons; sings “Everyone can see my glass heart”. Glass can be shattered yet can also be tough and transparent. In these ten songs of rawness and reflection we are invited to see into songwriter’s inner landscape, aided by her distinctively velvet-toned voice. A rich palette of light is refracted through the glass and the result is a collection of great beauty.
This is Parson’s fourth long-player. It builds on the wistful tone of earlier songs like ‘Alberta Sun’, but these offerings are generally darker, as if written at dusk, not in full sun. Here, a past amour “got away” and “made a life” but still she can’t “shake the monkey’” (‘Blame’). Yet “there is colour in the breaking of a heart’’, she sings in the beguiling ‘Dream Find’. In the most rocking song, she pleads “Tell me what you’re thinking, let me know your mind” (‘Just ‘Cause You Don’t Want Me’), asking for the same transparency she offers. Later the album’s metaphor returns with the writer asking “what would you change with your crystal ball”. The response is unsurprising given artists are necessarily wedded to their craft: “I’ve less to my name than I ever had/But I’m a thousand times happier in my head”.
This is an album best heard as a complete song cycle. Parsons’ style is to frequently sing in an almost conversational manner with much of her vocal power intentionally held back. The result is to be drawn in, time and again, aurally caressed by the reflections shimmering off this glass heart. Her vocal depth and range, the measured sound of her band, and the crispness of Mitchell Froom’s production makes for a stunning collection.
One footnote. Much music arrives digitally these days. I was glad to receive the CD version not only for access to the lyrics but also for the beautiful portraits of the artist against various shades of blue. Highly recommended.