On the follow-up to his 2003 debut Shangri-La West, one can still hear Jesse DeNatale’s influences surfacing throughout his songs. There’s John Prine’s raspy cadence and a Dylan/Springsteen-esque love of words. There’s the nighthawk poetry of Tom Waits and a street corner soulfulness that favors Willy DeVille this time more than his debut’s Van Morrison vibe.
But DeNatale, who concentrates on piano on Soul Parade, offers more than just an impressive list of influences. Given his rough-edged exterior, the whiskey-and-nicotine-voiced DeNatale reveals a surprising sense of hopefulness and romanticism on the touching love song “Shine Your Light” and the lithe, clarinet-laced “Dreamer’s Holiday”.
His gruff gentleness also presents itself in his two loving odes to children, “Baby Joe” and “Lucinda”. Meanwhile, the vividly detailed “Children Of The Sun” (not a song about children) and “Montgomery Street” showcase his sharp observational eye. His storytelling also shines on the boxing parable “The Bell”, a wonderful Prine/Waits hybrid. DeNatale’s own style is evident in the album’s airy orchestration.