Review Summary: Content to roll through 38 minutes of dull, standard folk-pop music with only one or two sparkles that make it remotely worthwhile.
It's easy to imagine that the vast majority of singer-songwriters spend their whole careers, or even their whole lives, waiting for a break. There's only so far you can go by playing coffee shops and open mic nights and uploading demos on MySpace; maybe you're even signed to some low-key indie label which distributes to three neighbouring states. But eventually there comes a point where someone needs to pick you out of a crowd and put you on a slightly more elevated stage. As far as a foot in the door goes, having the mellow opening track from your 2007 LP chosen as the very last song ever to grace teen drama series The OC is probably up there with the best. But when somebody gives you a chance you'd better make sure you have the substance to validate that decision. And there's a reason you've probably not heard of Patrick Park before now.
Through a series of acoustic-driven, largely downbeat numbers, Park manages to incorporate folk/country rhythm influence and folk/blues guitar lines into the typical acoustic pop sound on his first LP with new label Curb Appeal Records. Having left Hollywood Records with the assertion that they were too 'pop' for him, it's fantastic to see that his new environment gave him the freedom and the creative capacity to produce something absolutely generic and totally uninteresting.
It's not that Everyone's In Everyone is exactly coma-inducing or even particularly difficult to listen to. Everything's melodic, and most of it – although generously classified as mellow – has a gentle momentum about it. There is
variation here; some songs take an electric approach (Pawn Song) as opposed to the obviously favoured acoustic guitar, which itself is laced at points throughout the record with strings or xylophones. Time For Moving On even dabbles in a harmonica solo, and Park's voice, though sometimes limited in range, is definitely capable of providing diversity in delivery. The problem is that even though there seems to be a certain degree of intelligence, it all lies in the same ballpark, and that ballpark lends itself to an end result which is simply depressing.
Music doesn't need to be happy; I'm reminded of a Radiohead fan's argument that Street Spirit, though dark, is really beautiful because it implies the universal nature of suffering. For that matter, the lyrical content of Everyone's In Everyone isn't even terribly miserable; some of the tracks, on examination, have upbeat messages. However, the imagery and the vocabulary are so pessimistic that it's almost a chore to give the lyrics more attention; who wants to find the 'real' message behind Arrive Like A Whisper when most of its lines are as bleak as 'you call me up on some rainy Sunday, 'cause you're all alone' and when the vocals are also less than inspired?
Park knows his way around a melody alright, but he doesn't really possess any cutting edge in his voice to carry even the most heartfelt of tunes. The closest he comes is probably the drone of Nothing's Lost, which is perfectly fitting for the again downbeat subject matter, but the end of the chorus sounds like it wasn't thought about and just turns out uneventful. And elsewhere, like on Pawn Song or Saint With A Fever, the tiny range of the vocal melodies is so restrictive. The unexciting musical backdrop does nothing to pick the track up, either – particularly the latter, which seems to think a pointless, out of place guitar solo will make up for the tediously dirge-like pace of the rest of the song.
And therein lies the other huge problem with Everyone's In Everyone. So many of these tracks rely on the same formula – a pensieve acoustic guitar chord or four with a country or folk twist – and there are only so many ways for this hackneyed equation to play out before it begins to drag, that point having been reached a long time ago. So what you're left with is a record which, while its glaring flaws are not all too damaging, does absolutely nothing to make anybody sit up and listen. It's content to roll through 38 minutes of dull, standard folk-pop music with only one or two sparkles that make it remotely worthwhile.
On Here We Are, Patrick Park sings, 'we can't see past our own sad stories, and wonder what we're doing'. Everyone's In Everyone struggles to lift itself above the kind of misery-soaked lament which is fine if there are more optimistic landscapes to balance them out. Where Park finds those happier moments, like on stand-out Stay With Me Tomorrow, he's at his best. Unfortunately, those moments are fleeting and far between, and aren't enough to save the record from mediocrity.