Graham Parker’s reputation as a curmudgeonly character of distinction is well-established, given a 40-year legacy that still looms large in the annals of the post-punk era. An ace backing band, some of whom are old alumni — guitarist Martin Belmont, keyboard player Geraint Watkins, bassist Simon Edwards, drummer Roy Dodds and the Rumour Brass, the latter working with Parker for the first time in years — are content to do their boss’ bidding, with tight results.
On Cloud Symbols, Parker keenly observes his own emotions and the behaviors of those around him. The album feels like a strange reaction to our troubled times, misplaced optimism rubbing uncomfortably against our current straing ubiquitous outrage. The shuffling piano and accented horns coalesce in the simple wishes of “Dreamin’,” while “Ancient Past” finds Parker, toying with time and memory, savouring every moment. Parker fleshes out the blues/pub-rock tradition with quick wit and keen observation.