At just 20 years old, Arlo Parks’ music is imbued with more wisdom than musicians who are twice her age. Featuring a mélange of jazz, indie and R&B influences, the singer-songwriter’s thoughtful tracks address subjects ranging from sexual identity to mental health and body image with disarming honesty – resonating with a whole generation of young listeners in the process.
Born in west London, Parks grew up devouring the work of writers including Sylvia Plath, Audre Lorde and Joan Didion. Her early interest in poetry and literature has clearly had a huge impact on the DNA of her own work; her lyrics typically weave together fragments of memories, thoughts and feelings like a kind of musical diary. This delicate approach to songwriting is also reflected in the visual output that accompanies Parks’ music, and she cites the cinematic worlds of directors Xavier Dolan and Federico Fellini as some of her key inspirations.
“[The creative side of things] is extremely important for me,” Parks tells CR. “I’m a very visual person and when I write songs I want it to feel as if the listener is looking through the lens of a camera. I’m constantly thinking about music videos and artwork, planning how to elevate and build a world around the songs.” Her music videos in particular are striking in their simplicity and ability to capture the emotion of her written lyrics. Director Molly Burdett is the creative force behind the majority of these videos, having worked with the musician on a regular basis since 2018.