Anais Marinho, professionally known as Arlo Parks, is a British singer and songwriter whose debut studio album, Collapsed in Sunbeams (2021) received critical acclaim and placement on the UK albums chart. Despite being at such an early phase in her career, the singer has already received nominations for Album of the Year, Best New Artist, and Best British Female Solo Artist at the 2021 Brit Awards. In terms of touring, Marinho is still at an early point in her career to only have a handful of live performances, and few headlining shows. However, she obtained massive success as an opener for Clairo and Billie Eilish, amongst other independent artists.
Due to the worldwide pandemic heavily affecting touring and other musical logistics, it is only now that Marinho has been able to tour the United States to promote Collapsed in Sunbeams. Despite the delay, almost every major city on Parks’s bill has been sold out-including two dates at the Fonda, a musical mecca of venues for all touring musicians. Dallas, one of Texas’s most critical cities in terms of listeners, drew an eager crowd that filled the hall of Deep Ellum’s The Studio at the Factory.
Opener Maya Piata is very reminiscent of a more acoustic guitar-heavy SZA (Z-era SZA) or H.E.R. Her stage presence is pleasant and calm, despite it being apparent that she is starting out in her music career. Piata plays solo and does not have her own sound engineer, nor her own road equipment. Regardless, her set runs with little difficulty, tension, or awkwardness; she is honest and candid in her talking breaks between songs. Piata asks her audience questions to keep them engaged, making for a refreshing artist-fan dynamic. She clearly pays homage to her influences by covering Sade’s “Cherish the Day” and Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You”.
The main act shows up to her set time promptly. Parks exhibits great energy throughout her performance, leaping and turning across the stage during each song, flashing a radiant smile at her attentive audience. Her much-deserved success allows for more detail to be placed into curating the environment of her live shows, so all 800 square feet of the stage are strewn with artificial sunflowers and greenery amongst her band, a lively group consisting of backing vocalist and synth player MADELEINE, backing guitar Dani Diodato, drummer James Fernandez, and bassist Sam Harding. Despite the bright and vivid surroundings, Parks dons a monochromatic black ensemble, appropriate for the subject matter of her repertoire. A majority of Parks’s jazzy, dreamy songs feature themes of depression, worry, and marginalization, underlined with hope and optimism. One song in particular, “Black Dog,” is aptly titled due to its focus on Marinho’s mental health; the term “black dog” originates from SWANA (southwest Asian/north African) languages’ words for “depression.”
As of recent, mental health has been of utmost importance for Marinho, as it prompted her to cancel recent US tour dates. Regardless of such a setback, Arlo Parks’ Dallas performance was energetic and soulful. Playing an encore of her song “Too Good,” Parks ended her set with wistful smiles and a satisfied audience.