BY ABBY ROSE NOTARNICOLA //
Arlo Parks is an artist I recently discovered and immediately became obsessed with. The 20 year old British singer-songwriter combines soft vocals with an R&B indie style to craft her intense and mellow sound. The sweet, silky tone and subtle rasp of her voice draws you in, quieting any internal noise and making you feel present for each lyric. Touching on themes of loneliness, pain, self-perception, heartache, hopelessness and the struggles of adolescence, her soothing style pairs perfectly with her introspections, appealing to the troubled minds of the younger generations. I find myself listening to her whenever I feel lost or upset, and she reminds me that I’m not alone.
I discovered Arlo Parks on Spotify after listening to her 2020 single “Green Eyes”, a song that deals with the internalization of hate and how that affects same inidividuals in same sex relationships. Usually it takes me several listens to truly understand what’s being expressed in a song, but she absorbed me right away. I immediately felt the pain she was describing, and was inspired by her ability to gain my full attention. Since then, I have listened to some of her EP’s from 2018 and 2019, but have mostly stuck to Collapsed in Sunbeams, her debut album released in January of 2021. From start to finish, this collection of songs possesses the same enchanting quality. Some of my favorites are “Too Good,” “Hope”, “Caroline”, “Black Dog” and “Eugene”, yet the entire album speaks truth to me, touching on many dimensions of being a young adult struggling with mental health, especially in a Covid-19 era.
What separates Arlo Parks from other artists is that she incorporates spoken poetry into her music. Whether it’s an interlude to her album, or bridge in a song, Arlo Parks creates unexpected moments filled with meaning. When hearing her voice, it’s almost as if she is calling on you directly, telling you to listen and prompting you to reflect on what she is saying. I find myself hanging onto every word as her slow, compelling tone becomes somewhat hypnotizing. For example, in one of her songs entitled “Hurt”, she depicts a scenario of heartbreak to express that hurt won’t last forever, speaking this stanza towards the end of the song, “Charlie started seeing stars so stuck on the new Jai Paul / Said my clothes are sticking to me and I can’t quite see my walls / Started dreaming of a house with red carnations by the windows / Where he didn’t feel so small so overwhelmed by all his flaws.” With themes of feeling overlooked and unwanted, this moment is incredibly powerful to her listeners–calling them out to find hope amidst their pain. Her other instances of poetry create the same effect, emphasizing her message in an eloquently dramatic moment.
Growing up in West London, Arlo Parks discovered a love for poetry after reading Sylvia Plaths, “Ariel”. From then on, she began writing her own poems, teaching herself guitar and learning how to use garage bands to string it all together. By the time she reached High School she was collaborating with songwriters and producers, and after releasing several singles and EP’s, her music struck a chord with many artists and individuals. In 2020 she was nominated for the BBC’s Sound Of 2020, gained a spot on tour with Paramore’s Hayley Williams and booked 37 festival appearances. Though this all came to a halt amidst the pandemic, Arlo Sparks spent lots of time reflecting on herself and her feelings of loneliness, crafting songs for Collapsed in Sunbeams that have resonated with and helped navigate her listeners through these shared tough times. As she gains recognition for her poetic style and the healing power of her music, there is no doubt she will gain greater popularity as a leading artist of today.
To learn more about Arlo Parks, check out the links below and listen to the Spotify playlist with all of my favorite Arlo Parks Songs 🙂