New to me in 2005 was Kelly Pardekooper, a singer-songwriter from Iowa. His release, “Haymaker Heart,” (Leisure Time Records) spent a lot of time in my CD player but I never got around to writing a decent review on it. Better late than never. So here goes.
"Haymaker Heart" is a mellow disc – a gentle acoustic guitar with a bit of a rock edge. Engaging love songs, sarcastic ballads. The mood varies from dark to peppy – there’s even a little Spanish-sounding guitar on the first track. Pardekooper’s voice has a kind of lazy quality to it that’s very appealing. He reminds you a little of Slaid Cleaves and the sound approaches folk but, you know, it rocks.
Pardekooper’s art is true Americana. Americana enough to make good fun of the whole genre in “Folk This” – a mocking yet catchy tribute to the alt-country/Americana genre with references, direct and oblique, to Dylan, Mellencamp, Uncle Tupelo, the Old 97’s, Ryan Adams, Robbie Fulks, among others. Really clever and the tune stays with you. It’s surprising “Folk This” hasn’t gotten airplay as a novelty song.
The track, “Old Car,” is a metaphor for a long-term relationship – it’s kinda sweet if you don’t mind being compared to a junker. “Tell Me (You’re The One)” is another ode to a long-term relationship – an insecure plea for reassurance. It’s funny and fairly realistic. “Wild Love” has a bass line that brings to mind the Smithereens (remember them?).
He’s got the unrequited love thing going in “Goo.” “Twenty-first Century Trailer Park” is a pop song about the ubiquitous ugly condo development “fuckin’ up your hometown” – sounds a lot like a Todd Snider song. By that I mean, it’s quirky. And then there is “Run Again” which actually goes ahead and rocks with almost a punk feel to it.
According to the write up on CD Baby, Pardekooper’s following in Europe is on a par with Allison Krauss and Jay Farrar. Although he is not as well known here in the States, he deserves to be. Check out this disc and tell me you don’t agree.