Mel Parsons: Dancing On Dryland

Column: Features   |   Date Published: Thursday, 16 March 17   |   Author: Claudia Tilley   |   2 months, 2 weeks ago

Two-time New Zealand Music Awards finalist, MEL PARSONS will be hitting the stage for the first time at the NATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL. With three records under her belt, Parsons’s latest album Drylands contains a mixture of lustful tones, meaningful lyrics and strong guitar chords that you can’t help but get trapped inside your head. The track ‘Get Out Alive’ is the third single from the album and definitely a standout.

The song revolves around a serious accident Parsons had where the car rolled several times on the way home from a ski trip. She was lucky to be alive and not seriously injured, but despite this she found no difficultly in writing about it. The song contains gusty vocals about the idea of death, she states, “who would wear her things? They’d be useless I suppose”. It is clear that everything in Parsons’s life inspires her music in some way. However, she goes on to say, “I don’t think consciously it was any type of healing from the accident process, it just was what it was, I was inspired by what happened and that was it, really.”

Parsons has toured widely and constantly over the past years, including appearances at Woodford Folk Festival, WOMAD (NZ) and Folk Alliance (US). She mentions how frequent touring helps an artist to grow. “You are performing so often and like anything you do often, if you do it a lot then you are improving and you are sharpening up.” Although Parsons makes it clear that it’s not always as glamorous on the road as it may be perceived. She comments on the nature of long haul travel, “It is taxing on you physically.” Part of being a professional musician is coping with long stretches away from home. Parsons can be on a tour for anywhere between two weeks to a couple of months. “It’s just about finding a balance between working and living,” she says. “I go away, I enjoy what I am doing touring, then I come home and I enjoy that too.”  

Talking to Parsons, there is a strong sense of her ability to live in the moment and take everything as it comes. She seems to let the natural prevailing of events occur and this characteristic is clear in her music. Drylands differs from her past two solo folk albums, by containing a more alt-country tone. “As time moves on, your songwriting develops,” Parsons reveals. “It’s a natural progression – the overall sound of it.” Alongside her red-hot band, Mel Parsons will not be one to miss at this year’s folk festival.

The National Folk Festival takes place from Thu–Mon April 13–17 at Canberra Exhibition Park. Tickets are selling at



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