In some ways, the artwork came before I started an album. I studied flowers and contemplated their meaning. I practiced poses thinking of body language. Start to finish I designed each sometimes even resorting to self-portrait photography. I knew when I wrote the first album, that they’d be a series not unlike books. The covers would demonstrate their connectivity.
When we first meet our narrator she is shy and bemoaning not belonging. Later, she rebels and rejects. Then she turns inward to discover the self and finally, she was ready to love.
Below is a description of each album’s art beginning with the first. For those looking for lyrics, you may find them here.
Our Hearts First Meet, (2008)
"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies. that's for thoughts. There's fennel for you, and columbines: there's rue for you; and here's some for me: we may call it herb-grace o' Sundays: O you must wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy: I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died."
– Ophelia on the Meaning of Flowers. Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Originally a Texas folksong, the first version of the "Yellow Rose of Texas" was written around the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836. The folksong tells of a black American soldier who left his sweetheart a "yellow rose". Parasol's first full-length album chronicles her time and times spent in Texas, which touches upon loneliness, outsiders, isolation, and the love of a place that doesn't embrace you in return. Her personal life represented in the enclosed naked form on the cover, yet concealed in slight by the yellow rose. In many ways, the songs are souvenirs, much like photography, to depict the emotions and time in her life. "I hold those days close" like a flower pressed into a book. A rose to her remember a time once had and a battle fought hard, yet lost.
For blood and wine (2010)
"He did not wear his scarlet coat,
For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
When they found him with the dead."
– Oscar Wilde,
The Ballad of Reading Gaol.
It's certainly rewarding when musicians create their own album art and are able to bridge the gap between their music and visuals." - Fantastic album covers 2009, Redefine Magazine
Poppies denote sleep, rest, repose, beauty, and eternal life. The Egyptians included poppies at funerals and in burial tombs. In modern times, poppies have been associated with opiates and in addition, is state flower of California - all connected to this album. The follow-up to Parasol's "Our Hearts First Meet", Parasol once again based her songs directly from her life. "For Blood and Wine" marked a return to California from Texas. The defiant pose turns its back, but soon, like the nods towards William Hogarth (back cover) and Oscar Wilde (title), the downward spiral of the reckless rake takes shape. Parasol captures the essence of old San Francisco's Barbary Coast and Beatnik eras while her present-day life narrative streams out all things blood and wine.
Against the Sun (2013)
"Had nature any outcast face,
Could she a son condemn,
Had nature an Iscariot,
That mushroom, – it is him."
– Emily Dickison, Mushroom.
"Overnight, very Whitely, discreetly,
– Sylvia Plath, Mushrooms.
Parasol’s third album takes our narrator on an introspective and autonomous journey to embrace the "self".
As with the departure of the flowers, so is much of the instrumentation. In theme with a sense of independence Ms. Parasol explores a stark self-reliant sound playing most of the instruments herself and using her voice to layer the sound. The voices themselves freely mushroom. Psychedelic at times, blissed-out, and transient. In Latin and French "parasol" means "against the sun”, which is befitting for someone walking through the world with their guard up.
Much of these songs are retreating inward, detaching, introverting, and taking flight both physically and emotionally. And so, with this in mind, the figure turns back. It retreats, abandons and ignores. The autonomous traveler explores the world while growing in the dark.
The color of destruction (2015)
"At my side the Demon writhes forever,
Swimming around me like impalpable air;
As I breathe, he burns my lungs like fever
And fills me with an eternal guilty desire."
- Destruction, Charles Baudelaire
"Red coral, white coral,
Coral from the sea.
I did not dig it from the ground,
Nor pluck it from a tree;
Feeble insects made it
In the stormy sea."
– O Sailor, Come Ashore,
The fourth album in her series, Ms Parasol's narrator at last opens her heart up to the world without concern to be loved, but to love.
Once believed to be a plant, coral actually is comprised of polyps, which are living creatures. Red coral can resemble characteristics of bone, vein, and even fire. Coral symbolizes life and blood force, and passion.
In Greek mythology, the origin of coral is explained by the story of Perseus: He placed Medusa's head on the riverbank as he washed his hands. Then, her blood ran into the water and turned seaweeds into red coral. Medusa's ability to turn men into stone is an important facet of her feminine influence and symbolizes the cycle of life and death. But man destroys her and extinguishes her power. Her life force is returned to the natural world.
The Color of Destruction begs the question "To burn or to drown?" When one knows their doomed fate, shall they simply be submerged – or shall they set their sinking ship afire? One final spectacle of courage and vitality. Fire and water, ruins, wrecks, destruction, spring and winter, are the running themes of “The Color of Destruction”. The author admits: "An attempt to singe the rest of the wreckage". Ready to burn, yet may only drown.