We gave it a B
Rock’s most pugnacious poet has always swung blind, throwing articulate musical punches at his enemies without regard for the consequences. Lately, however, Graham Parker has cut back the paranoid vitriol to pen humble pro-love, pro-family declarations. Burning Questions, the British singer-songwriter’s 12th studio album, has its share of quixotic clunkers (”Just Like Hermann Hesse”) and odd obsessions (a fascinating ode to a ’60s record producer, ”Just Like Joe Meek’s Blues”). But then Parker comes across with poignant tunes like ”Worthy of Your Love” and the pointedly self-critical ”Mr. Tender.” If the spare arrangements—a guitar-led mixture of rootsy rock and R&B styles—suggest a crackerjack prom band of the early ’60s, the conviction in Parker’s soulful voice ignites them with strength and sentiment.