Arlo Parks british singer concert Montreux Switzerland
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August 23, 2022
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Away from space and time: In a bubble with Arlo Parks

Over the grass of the Caux Palace, the sun was setting on Lake Geneva. In a landscape closer to a postcard than a tangible scenery, British singer Arlo Parks created a time breach.

Not far from the buzzing shorelines of the Montreux Jazz Festival, Arlo Parks sat for an hour at the edge of the Caux Mount to play an exclusive set of songs. This incredible setting, watched over by the century-old towers, was kept secret until the very last minute. It was part of this year's new addition to the festival, “Parallel”. A project held by Montreux Jazz’s partner Audemars Piguet. This year's series of exclusive concerts started with French band The Blaze and ended beautifully with poet and singer Arlo Parks.

The 21-years old artist from West London surprised with her perfect french and a talking voice as soft as her singing one. From writing her first song for a school project at 13 to being awarded Best New Artist at the BRITs, Arlo Parks has come a long way and a whole universe to offer. If most of the songs she sang were exclusivities, a couple were from her debut album, “Collapsed in Sunbeams”, released at the beginning of 2021.

If I had to picture a scene for “Collapsed in Sunbeams”, it would be an empty apartment bedroom at sunset. A feeling of loneliness compensated by the warmth coming through the window. The comfort of a home and the understanding of a close one. Through my headphones and now on such a special stage, Arlo Parks' feathery voice never failed to convey that many emotional layers.

Because if there is one thing that makes Arlo Parks unique apart from her exceptional voice, which ranges from almost angelic singing to hypnotic Sprechgesang (spoken-singing), it is her lyrics. Arlo Parks’ lyrics always have been very intimate and poetic. Their beauty surely resides in the simplicity with which they describe difficult emotions and subjects. Songs like “Black Dog”, which she wrote when a friend of her was going through a difficult, have the simple words one needs to hear (“Just take your medicine and eat some food, I would do anything to get you out your room…”). “Eugene”, my favorite song of hers and one she sang at Parallel is a wellspring of references and metaphors that never fails to make me tear up, especially when sung on top of a mountain at dusk. (I had a dream, we kissed and it was all amethyst, The underpart of your eyes was violet, You hung a cigarette between your purple lips…). Her last single, “Softly”, if more upbeat, is another example of her impeccable writing, conveying with simplicity the pain and dread of a dying relationship.

In and out of her songs, Arlo Parks has always been vocal about the importance of mental health, especially within the music industry. Her sensibility shows through her music and creates this instant sense of togetherness, of shared understanding that materializes into a bubble during her performances. It felt too soon once her concert ended, yet the sun was already down.

A jazz fan through her father, who "has been talking about the festival for 20 years while [she's] only 20", Arlo Parks had been dreaming about Montreux Jazz for a long time. We hope this will give her an additional reason to return to Switzerland at the earliest opportunity.

Pictures © FFJM 2022 Emilien Itim

Article by Chloé Bruère-Dawson

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