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The National Parks

Young – 2013 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by The National Parks

The recession hit The National Parks recently as the Utah band's line was fully halved. While the debut album, "Young", was recorded with six members, the band is now a power trio of Brady Parks, (strings/lead vocals), Sydney Carling, (vocals/keys) and Paige Wagner (violin). This unraveling doesn't seem to have undone the positivity of the band, all devout Mormons who formed at Brigham Young University.

For a group of either very old children or very young adults, these independent folkies show enormous promise and depth. One standout, Bird's Eye, begins with the stark simplicity of "When I was young I had a lover, but she died one day." The song goes on how the night evokes the lost woman and hints at a reconnection.

The National Parks music is the sound of resilience - even when Parks sings how "he couldn't have been more wrong" about someone in Ghosts, the music answers: all will be well. The lyrics don't necessarily spell out a deity or a cause to suggest that. But there's a consistent feeling of how a long-view solves just about anything. Lovers return, or new ones are met.

Parks takes most of the vocal duties, with Carling providing harmonies. It would be more interesting if they would trade off that same formula more. Also, the occasional track feel half-baked: I Never Let You Know compiles wonderful chords, but the refrain's generic rhyme is too plain to carry a chorus.

Comparisons to Mumford and Sons often arise with the band, which still has yet to tour east of the Mountain Time zone. They also have the gender mix and Celtic flavor of bands like The Lumineers. But there's definitely something signature with The National Parks - sonic crescendos without all the reckless abandon. There's elegance and restraint in what they do - Carling's piano, for example, might visit just a few keys, and no one is afraid to sing a beat behind a melody. But the secret ingredient is heaping helpings of hope.