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Peter Parcek - The Story behind the Songs

"My first album was called Evolution, but this album really is an evolution for me," Peter explains. “It’s the most focused, emotionally complex and complete artistic statement I’ve made under my own name.

Peter calls his approach "soul guitar," an appellation that alludes to his playing’s depth of feeling and character, as well as its deepest roots in classic American music. But Peter’s sensibilities are equally attuned to the future. All of that’s abundantly obvious in The Mathematics of Love’s 10 smartly woven songs.

They range from the elegant textural blues of the title track, which features Peter on electric lead and rhythm guitar, slide and National steel resonator guitars, to the loop-based spiritual "Lord Help the Poor and Needy," a cutting-edge update of a Mississippi hill country classic by the legendary Jessie Mae Hemphill.

Humor is also part of the album’s equation, thanks to the blithely comic instrumental "Rollin’ with Zah." And there’s a version of Ray Charles’ "Busted" that starts in Soulsville and finishes just a little west of Mars thanks to a psychedelic excursion led by Peter and his guest organist, rock ‘n’ roll legend Al Kooper.

"Over the last few years I’ve gotten very enamored of gypsy jazz, especially the music of Django Reinhardt as well as contemporary masters like Bireli Legrene and Tchavolo Schmitt, and it’s had a profound influence. Django’s performances are breathtakingly beautifully and technically demanding. I’ve really been taken with the purity of his acoustic guitar sound, and he played electric with such abandon. His music is very much alive and creative, so I also tried to bring those qualities to The Mathematic of Love."

And Peter succeeded. The acoustic and electric blend of numbers like "The Mathematics of Love" and "Kokomo Me Baby" create their own vibrant world. Of course, he had some help in the studio. Besides Kooper, he was joined by the crack rhythm team of drummer Steve Scully and bassist Marc Hickox--veterans of Peter’s band and fellow members of the international pop-rock group the Singhs, where Peter plays guitar foil to frontman/leader Miki Singh.

Mandolin virtuoso Jimmy Ryan, violinist Dan Kellar and upright bass kingpin Marty Ballou also joined Peter’s musical cast. Ducky Carlisle (Susan Tedeschi, Nora Jones) and Tom Dube (Richard Thompson, Los Lobos) engineered. Ted Drozdowski, best known as slide guitarist/frontman of cutting-edge juke blues outfit Scissormen and for his award-winning journalism, produced.

The inspirations for some of Peter’s numbers, like the antic "Rollin’ with Zah," spring from his childhood. He was born in Middletown, Connecticut, a once-thriving industrial burg along the state’s namesake river. His parents encouraged him to sing and bought his first guitar with S&H Green Stamps, while his uncle’s record collection exposed him to the delights of rhythm & blues.

In 2000 Peter made his first solo album Evolution (Lightning Records), a collection of originals and reinterpretations of classics by Freddie King and Mose Allison. That disc also boasts appearances by Kooper and blues guitar giant Ronnie Earl. The Mathematics of Love’s “New Year’s Eve,” featuring Earl, comes from that album, which sold out.