A good, general rule to live by is when a recent winner of the Mercury Music Prize comes to your town, go see them. This certainly held up well for Arlo Parks’ sold-out appearance at Union Stage recenlty. Fresh off of an appearance at the Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta over the previous weekend, Parks displayed talent and charisma well beyond what I expected from this 20 year-old.
Her debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, is a fun, airy vibe of trip-hop beats (supplied by producer Gianluca Buccellati) and Parks cooler-than-ice-cold vocals. She has an ear for a hook as well, I’m still trying to get the chorus of “Caroline” out of my head days after the show. I swear to God I tried.
She also has a gift for observation based songs, evidenced by the aforementioned “Caroline” and her uplifting ode to a depressed best friend “Black Dog.” Parks did a great segment on NPR about song earlier this year. Other standouts from the set included “Too Good” and “Cola.”
Stream Collapsed in Sunbeams by Arlo Parks on Spotify:
In the middle of her set on Oct. 26, Parks stopped the show, took out her notebook and recited the poem her debut album is named after, “Collapsed in Sunbeams.” It was a nice change of pace that turned into a cool moment when Parks noticed a group of fans in the front row that were struck by the poem. She tore the copy of the poem from her notebook, divided the paper into three pieces and gave each a piece. Quite a keepsake.
Parks meteoric rise has been fast enough to give even the least jaded among us a bit of pause, but I was struck by her presence and vibe. Keep an eye on her, she’s got a bright future ahead of her.
Here are some pictures of Arlo Parks performing at Union Stage on Oct. 26, 2021. All photos copyright and courtesy of Kyle Gustafson.