It’s not very often that optimism meets soul, but that’s the very formula working on Haley Parvin’s debut release, One Eye Open. On the seven tracks, Parvin maximizes her powerhouse voice, which is young but with a mature ache in all the right places. She warbles, she lilts, she unfurls the lyrics she penned herself.
Parvin, a Wisconsin native, has been taking lessons, performing, and writing songs for years now, placing as a finalist in the Overture Center's Rising Stars her senior year of high school (for a smoky rendition of “House of the Rising Sun”). But no amount of lessons or practice can give a musician that indefinable edge, the talent that feels simultaneously intimate and stratospheric. You may be listening to Haley Parvin from your living room, but she’s singing from your solar plexus.
“I really didn't t want to make a sappy album that was about your typical teenage heartbreaks,” says Parvin, now a music education student at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. “My album is about looking at the world as a whole, and seeing every option/opportunity. A lot of times people (myself included) might only think about the worst outcome of a situation, but in reality there is a lot of good.”
And Parvin is well capable of finding the good even in difficult situations. One Eye Open kicks off with “I’ll Be Around,” a pop/R&B hybrid with an easy rhythm. “When all your love is falling down to the ground, hope that I can pick it up again,” Parvin sings, offering unconditional support to a loved one during a turbulent time. The dynamics in her voice are alone to dispel any bad juju. Meanwhile, the next track, “Pretend,” proves that the devotion of the previous song should not be mistaken for codependence. “With you I lost myself, but now I am awake,” goes the chorus. “Pretend” isn’t a breakup song, though. It’s a celebration of reclaiming the identity that can get lost in relationships.
That’s not to say that Parvin doesn’t do brooding well, though. “Two Steps From the Blues,” propelled by an elastic croon, searches for what’s salvageable after trust is broken. The song is cinematic, armed with gently crashing drums that personify the heartbreak. “Run,” a driving pop number about the importance of taking risks, finds Parvin healed and ready for more adventure. Here, the drums, guitars and vocals form a synergy that propels the song forward. It’s the closing track of the album, and it leaves you wanting so much more.
With talent like this, it’s no wonder Parvin is an optimist.