Portland, OR-based JOVM mainstays The Parson Red Heads — currently Evan Way (guitar, vocals), Brette Marie Way (drums, vocals), Robbie Augspurger (bass), Raymond Richards (multi-instrumentalist, production) and the band’s newest member Jake Smith (guitar) – released their fifth album Lifetime of Comedy late last year through Fluff and Gravy Records across North America and You Are The Cosmos across Europe. The album finds the band excavating the bedrock of their well-honed sound and allowing to be remodeled and remolded. And while remaining a quintessentially Parson Red Head album, Lifetime of Comedy’s material as the band’s Evan Way contends in press notes was among the most collaborative they’ve written and recorded to date.
The members of the JOVM mainstays started recording Lifetime of Comedy early last year, and much like countless acts across our globe, they quickly found themselves and their plans in limbo as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions. Once studios could reopen safely, recording sessions continued at a snail’s pace for small, very intimate sessions.. And with much of the album’s material recorded in a decollate, touch-and-go fashion, Lifetime of Comedy seems imbued — and perhaps also informed by — a sense of perseverance and hope at all costs.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve written about three of the album’s released singles:
“All I Wanted,” a classic Parson Red Heads song that superficially sounded as though it could have been part of the Blurred Harmony sessions but with a subtly free-flowing, jammier vibe that evoked the sensation of longtime friends creating something new with a revitalized sense of togetherness centered around incredibly earnest lyricism, born from lived-in experience.
“Turn Around” is a heartfelt deflation of devotion seemingly influenced by 80s and early 90s jangle pop that’s simple yet absolutely necessary. After all, sometimes all that ever needs to be said to our loved ones is “I’ll be always there.”
“Coming Along,” song that manages to balance lush and anthemic instrumentation with the sort of introspective lyricism that can only come from a living a full and messy life. And as a result the song is an accumulation of weariness, regret, wisdom, resiliency and hope that seems to say “yes, life will break your heart sometimes but we find a way to love, to dream, to love — and that’s what makes life endurable.
“Fall and Be Found” an expansive bit of cosmic Americana that thematically, was centered around two very different yet related things: the recognition of the wonderful, deeply human and seemingly fleeting moments of our existence (i.e., birth, childhood, friendship, love and the like) and the hope that better days are just around the corner.
Lifetime of Comedy’s fifth and latest single “Falling Fading” was the last song that The Parson Red Heads’ frontman Evan Way wrote for the album — and the last song they tracked in the studio. Like its predecessors, it’s a shimmering bit of cosmic Americana, but more importantly, the song is heartfelt and intimate portrait of an emotionally closed-off man, who takes stock of himself, his actions and his relationships with regret and shame. The song is yet another example of what I personally love about the band: their ability to talk about the big things and big emotions simply and earnestly.
Filmed and edited by Jared Lichtenberg, the recently released video for “Falling Fading” was filmed while the band was recording the final take of the final song of the album. Naturally, the song captures the band’s friendship, their passion for music and the joy they feel when they’re making music together. Because it was filmed about a month before the pandemic reminded us that our world is uncertain and frightening, it’s a nostalgic look at a time that we all know wasn’t that far off but feels like a lifetime ago. While we hope that we can all spend time with each other again — and soon — the video is also a poignant reminder that ultimately, it’s the people of your life and the time you’ve spent with the that’s the most important.