Los Angeles based troubadour Patrick Park has a special knack for evoking the strongest of feelings and capturing the most poignant of moments within the constraints of a three-minute acoustic folk-pop song. The barer the arrangement, the better—while his debut full-length Loneliness Knows My Name was an impressive set of songs, hearing his soft baritone live, accompanied only by a lone acoustic guitar, can provide an experience that no amount of studio magic or orchestration can duplicate. Not to mention I’m still upset about the steel drums added to the album version of “Home For Now.” Nonetheless, his recorded output to this point has been nothing short of beautifully heartbreaking, and I, for one, have been anxiously awaiting his next move.
Turns out his next move was a pretty darned big one, having his song “Life is a Song” play over the last moments of The O.C.‘s finale. I didn’t watch it, but apparently seven million others did, which could have Park starting off on the right foot with his second album Everyone’s In Everyone. Whereas Loneliness Knows My Name had its share of bombast and grandly building crescendos, not to mention rocking numbers like “Honest Skrew” and “Sons of Guns,” this new effort is a bit more subdued, opting for sparser arrangements and more hushed tones, both of which suit Park wonderfully.
That now famous O.C. closer “Life is a Song” opens the record softly and melancholically, asking the question “tell me why you live like you’re afraid to die/ you die like you’re afraid to go?” From there, Park and associates add a bit more instrumentation on the gorgeous lap steel-laden “Time For Moving On,” an early highlight with a feel that recalls the Laurel Canyon scene of the ’70s, a sound that soon comes to color much of the other songs on the album. “Here We Are” rides a wave of shuffling guitar plucks, reminiscent of Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talking.” In this song, he seems to question people’s own self-absorption, or perhaps even the mopey singer-songwriter image, with his catchy chorus of “we can’t see past our own sad stories and wonder what we’re missing,“before a stunningly harmonized bridge.
There’s a dusty country vibe on “Arrive Like a Whisper,” as well as the highlight “Nothing’s Lost,” which recalls early Elliott Smith, given better production values. With “Pawn Song,” Park finally escalates into a louder, rock sound, and here’s where I contradict myself, it’s among the best tracks on the album. Granted, he does a supreme job with just his acoustic, but here, the tension builds so slowly with such subtle tones that its climax seems to pay off that much stronger. By now, Park’s got his approach down, finding the right balance of subtlety and directness to make each of his songs strike just the right chord. On, Everyone’s In Everyone, Park sounds more comfortable and commanding than ever.
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Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.