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Graham Parker

Since hitching his wagon to Bloodshot Records with 2004's Your Country, Graham Parker has enjoyed yet another comeback in terms of songwriting inspiration. He does it every decade; take 1988's The Mona Lisa's Sister or 1991's Struck by Lightning as examples. Parker has that rare ability to return to the well of inspiration and draw out enough turns of phrase, deadly puns and genius lyrics to make for a dozen expert songs. And with Don't Tell Columbus, he has unveiled his best album in more than 20 years.

Kicking off with "I Discovered America," Parker humorously relates his career origins, soldiering on with his "bony-chested T-shirt / some stolen guitar licks / navigating by dead reckoning / in 1976." He follows his story of conquest by observing the other side of the pond in "England's Latest Clown," a wicked rebuke of rock stars like Pete Doherty, who always emerges from rehab "with muscles on his muscles and Kate Moss by his side." But it's the meditative quality of a song like "Suspension Bridge" that sets apart Parker's newfound muse, especially when he describes his father taking him to stand on an unfinished bridge, where "the suicide lovers swim under the sea / and the murderers submit an innocent plea."

Despite his age, he's still a card-carrying "angry young man." Listen to the aggressive verbal deconstruction of Dubya's bloody policies in "Stick to the Plan" and "Bullet of Redemption" and tell us Parker has mellowed. Yeah, we didn't think so.

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