Ian Parker is the kind of artists for who the blues is a broad canvas. In a bygone age he might have been considered a guitar playing singer song writer, but such is the intensity of his playing, the alacrity of his lyrics and the power of his band that such labels appear redundant. And on 'Where I Belong' he's taken his muse further in the direction of the white boy soul singer, coming up with an album full of relationship songs that would give the younger Robert Cray a run for his money.
And yet while the album is full of plenty of soul searching and lovers laments the material is punctuated by sterling guitar solo's, plenty of soulful grooves and is of course topped by Ian's emotive vocals that bring to life every nuance of his lyrics.
More impressive still is the way he has moulded all the above elements into some radio friendly cuts that might just draw the focus temporarily away from the rock blues template and into the direction of his newer efforts. And what efforts they are! Check out the horn led, soulful Stax crossover and Robert Cray feel of 'Your Love Is My Home' and the underlying soulful swing and lilt of 'Waste My Days', complete with a challenging chord structure.
Ian also pays close attention to some cute production values on the riff driven 'Until You Show Me ' on which he juxtaposes some low register, close to the mike verse with a punched out chorus and fiery guitar solo. The band does him proud on this outing with the rhythm section underscoring the bristling dynamics of the song.
'Sweet Singing Sirens' is the kind of riff driven outing has undoubted radio potential while 'Love So Cold' is arguably his best ever blues song – but think of the contemporary cross over feel of say Ben Harper rather than blues in a retro sense. And in many ways this songs encapsulates what Ian is all about, as the song comes first and the musical arrangement is really an adjunct with which to put his feelings across.
On 'Coming Home' Ian employs a muted trumpet and acoustic intro. The cool Hammond line comes courtesy of Morg Morgan on a soulful relationship ballad full of dramatic vocals with an underlying Tex-Mex and Soul feel. The end piece climactic guitar solo neatly cuts through tension before the number gently concludes
'Where I Belong' deserves all the plaudits going for it, if only for the ground breaking songs, the heartfelt vocal performance, some superb band playing and the subtlety of the arrangements. The closing 'Told My Girl To Go Away' is the perfect conclusion to a great album and is the kind of slide driven piece that perfectly sums up Parker's raw gut emotional style in which no word is every wasted and every note further enhances his meaning. This is an excellent album that should broaden Ian Parker's fan base and is with well worth purchasing.