Perhaps one key to longevity is the ability to wax witty in the face of adversity. Witness esteemed British singer-songwriter and Hudson Valley resident Graham Parker: After having his compositions rejected for use as TV show title songs, the icon of acerbic, literate rock turned his irritation into inspiration, writing plotlines for 10 ludicrous (but sadly believable) productions, then composing the themes. (One track, the gospel-reggae “More Questions than Answers,” is a Johnny Nash cover.) The result is the masterful songsmith’s 20th album, Imaginary Television. Although the setups are consistently wacky, Parker’s lyrical skill gives simpatico flesh and bone to hapless protagonists caught in a world run by corporations and scored by clueless music supervisors. The hilariously satirical text—included in the CD in lieu of lyrics—doesn’t always jibe with the songs, but it’s a unique hook and you’ll be glad you got sucked in.
Musically, this is the richly tuneful soul-rock for which Parker owns the blueprint, impeccably delivered with live-in-the-room punch (and employing local keys man Professor “Louie” Hurwitz). Each song adheres to the Parker template of assertive acoustic and alternately chiming and churning electric guitars, authoritative vocals, and loose-limbed rhythm, wrapped around soaring choruses with flourishes of banjo and lap steel. “Weather Report”—just another A-side about an agoraphobic Weather Channel-obsessed guy—kicks off the album with paranoid glee, while Moondance outtake-sounding “Snowgun,” which purports to be about a Japanese-American ski bum, namechecks Belleayre Mountain. www.bloodshotrecords.com.