Review: One Cure for Man’s ‘We All Pretend’ EP is all about acceptance – but acceptance in hope and not in defeat

English singer songwriter One Cure for Man, aka James Parkinson, has a new EP out.

Called We All Pretend, his latest EP was released in late September but, being in the U.S. dealing with family issues, I only had time to listen to it but not to review.

But, as usual with One Cure for Man, I didn’t want to pass this one by as this prolific musician always releases standout songs and again, with We All Pretend, he most definitely does not disappoint.

Especially as, unlike one of his last releases ‘Too Many Songs, which was a lament about the struggles musicians go through in just getting their music heard, We All Pretend has much more of the feel of acceptance.

Not acceptance in defeat though, but more of an acceptance that the world is the way it is, and so he will continue to write and release the music he loves to create, as that is what makes him happy, while still not giving up the hope that it will eventually earn the wider audience he so richly deserves.

 

One Cure for Man’s We All Pretend is a six-song delight

The six-song EP begins with ‘The Now‘. A song I had already become addicted to when the singer released it as a single back in August, along with a gorgeous music video filmed in my original home town Barnoldswick, and in close-by Burnley.

One Cure for Man’s ‘The Now‘ — Track 1

The Now’ features a beautifully addictive melody, Parkinson’s superb guitar and piano skills and vocals that are, as always, pretty damned stellar.

The singer himself explains the theme of the song like this:

‘The Now’ is a bittersweet tale of how we can all learn from children to live in the moment. In a world of catch-up and obsessions with the past, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to live in the present.

Very young children have little concept of time and seem to feel anything but the moment as they let their hearts rule rather than the mind. I wanted to write a song that captures these moments and celebrates the heart and impulse of being ‘In the Now.”

I also love the music video for ‘The Now‘ because, as his videos often do, it features James Parkinson’s young children, Leo (6) and Dylan (3), and makes me reminisce about my own childhood running around the same fields his children run around now.

And also makes me remember what an idyllic childhood I had, but a childhood that is oh so sadly long gone.

Hopefully his children will appreciate their own childhood more than I appreciated mine.

 

One Cure for Man’s ‘Into the Deep‘ — Track 2

Into the Deep‘ is a gorgeously mellow, guitar-driven song that the singer says was influenced by one of his songwriting/guitar heroes, Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera, along with music from The Clash and Paul Simon.

It features a catchy shout beat that made me smile the first time I heard it (and much longer than that, if I’m honest), a lovely guitar melody that is slightly Spanish in feel, and a soft beat that immediately had me want to get up and dance slowly and sweetly around my kitchen.

Into the Deep‘ also features a music video by One Cure for Man’s friend Lee Mears, with the song itself being about power and corruption, and how, if you choose the right path in life, they are still possible to avoid.

 

One Cure for Man’s ‘The World in Autumn Sun‘ — Track #3

The World in Autumn Sun‘ not only comes with a truly lovely stop motion animated music video created by Parkinson himself (yep, he’s that multi-talented), but it also features a song about the poignancy of autum and the enjoyment of that season’s sun that often has a more satisfyingly golden light to it than at other times of year.

The singer also commented he wrote the song after he had a health scare and, in his emotionally heightened state, it made everything about autumn seem more vibrant and beautiful.

The World in Autum Sun‘ is a mix of melancholy as another year begins to draw to a close, along with a feeling of hope (especially with that upliftingly gentle guitar) that the coming new year will be even happier and even more enriching.

It finishes with his son talking about the color of the autum leaves in that wonderfully broad and honest Lancashire accent I remember hearing all around me as a child.

 

One Cure for Man’s ‘Hard to Feel (Memories)‘ — Track #4

One Cure for Man’s We All Pretend EP creates a plethora of emotions that quickly change as each new song begins to play.

With ‘Hard to Feel (Memories)‘, to me, those emotions seem more matter-of-fact. An admission that holding onto memories isn’t always the best thing to do.

Not when those memories, as nice as they may be, stop you from not only moving on with your life, but also experiencing new things that may even make you happier.

If you would only give new people the chance to do that for you.

One Cure for Man’s ‘On the Edge‘ — Track #5

Track #5 on the EP ‘On the Edge‘ is one of the most interesting songs on One Cure for Man’s We All Pretend EP, as it looks at the somewhat tragic lives of actor Richard Burton and the poet and writer Dylan Thomas.

Both Welsh men who struggled with alcohol addiction and self-destructive behavior throughout most of their lives. Behavior that, to some extent, eventually killed them both.

Thomas at the still young age of 39, and Burton at only 58.

One Cure for Man explained his writing of ‘On The Edge‘ like this:

The song delves into the fascinating lives of these incredibly talented men who were both tragically drawn to the edge. In a Michael Parkinson interview, Burton discussed with him the notion that many creative Celts are often drawn to precipices, sometimes going over them. And that they often have a “death wish” despite their obvious creative talents.

Burton said in 1974: “I didn’t fancy much staying alive….I couldn’t bear it’s (the world) richness and beauty … I thought it’s best to leave it. “My goal was to write a song that captured their talents but told the story of how these men very much lived their lives at the precipice.

The song, which was the singer’s first single release from the EP, also comes with a black and white music video that was, appropriately, filmed in a local pub.

It features Parkinson sitting at an otherwise empty table realizing he is already balancing on that precipice with no way to get off.

A jarring thing that made me think of those famous closing lines from Dylan Thomas’ poem ‘Fern Hill‘:

Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea

as the poet realizes the innocence and joy he once had as a child is long gone, and he is now already engrained in the choices that ultimately destroyed his life.

That hauntingly beautiful saxophone at the end of the track is from Roy Turner, and adds a sweetly melancholic reminder of lives lost and promise wasted.

 

One Cure for Man’s ‘We All‘ — Track #6

The final track on We All Pretend is the surprising choral piece ‘We All‘, which wraps up One Cure for Man’s latest EP with the thought that, when it gets right down to it, as much as that how we deal with things that happen to us may be different, in reality we are all more similar than not.

And it made me think about a lovely video I watched recently of a Japanese women making food for her family, while admitting she was the happiest when she cooked things she knew her husband and elderly mother-in-law would enjoy.

It was a video that made me think about how, no matter what country you are from or where you travel to, the people you meet will have similar feelings to you, and similar things that make them happy or sad.

They will love, laugh, smile, cry, scream, curse, blame, be jealous, angry and thankful, spend their lives trying to make their loved ones happy while often feeling guilty when they are not.

Most though will live their lives doing their best, even if things don’t always work out for the best.

It is a sweetly charming ending song, featuring a choir comprising the singer, artists Jeremiah Toole, J Patrick Reed and Sinead Mclaughlin, and some of his friends, that embodies the entire feel of One Cure for Man’s We All Pretend EP — we all like to pretend we are different than our friends, our neighbors, people in other towns and other countries but, in reality, we are not.

And maybe, if we all stopped pretending and accepted our similarities, just like One Cure for Man has now accepted the reality of his music struggles with this new release, life would be better for all of us.

One Cure for Man’s We All Pretend is yet another superb collection of songs from the English indie singer/songwriter that not only features gorgeously-crafted songs musically, but also lyrics that, in every song, tell a compelling and touching story.

Listen to the EP in its entirety below and then, of course, enjoy One Cure for Man’s entire body of work via Spotify and YouTube.

 

 

About Michelle Topham

I'm a Brit-American journalist, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I'm also obsessed with music, anime, manga, and K-dramas. Help!