The Namby Pamby: ‘Marketplace’
It has all the hallmarks of a future classic
The Namby Pamby, a trio out of Fort Wayne, consists of sisters McKenna Parks on guitar and vocals and Emily Parks on bass and vocals, along with drummer Payton Knerr.
The sisters were previously in Bonsai along with fellow Fort Wayne musical wunderkind Jonah Leatherman. That band showed promise of a bright future in music. The vocals were effective and evoked big, stadium-sized emotional heft, as well as musically being the kind of melody-driven songs that haunt your skull long after the track ended.
The Namby Pamby have released their debut LP Marketplace. It is amazing. Eight songs recorded by Jason Davis at Off The Cuff Recording Studio, Marketplace showcases this trio as one of the best and brightest hitting stages in The Fort.
One of the first things that stood out for me hearing Bonsai in 2020 was McKenna Parks’ voice. She had power and grace in those vocals with the sort of chutzpah that would make even an average band great. Fortunately, Bonsai was great all around, and in The Namby Pamby, Parks sounds even better. More nuanced and subtle in tracks like “Chardonnay” and “Sardines,” she elicits singers like Joni Mitchell, Sharon Van Etten, and even Phoebe Bridgers. Musically, these album openers are quieter and evoke a softer, hushed feel. The almost jazz undertone of Knerr’s drums gives the proceedings a touch of understated beauty.
That’s not to say these ladies don’t rock. “Reality Tonality” rides an indie rock wave that is reminiscent of Courtney Barnett, while “Poached Egg” has a darkness to it, complete with subtle keys and a guitar line that has an early ’90s alternative rock feel. “Spare Change” closes the album with a folksy feel and plenty of emotional heft. It’s quietly understated and vulnerable.
Marketplace is a hell of a debut. It has all the hallmarks of a future classic, with the Parks sisters and Knerr putting together a record that is subtle, strikingly vulnerable, and wholly engaging. And it arrives just in time to make those year-end lists.