Reviews

Charlie Parr Back with New Record

Charlie Parr
By Brian Rock

It might come as some surprise that Charlie Parr’s fourteenth album is simply titled, Charlie Parr. After all, artists usually make their first album eponymous to help people remember their name. But an unusual and devastating skateboarding accident in August of 2018 shattered Charlie’s right shoulder. Unable to play guitar for the first time in his adult life, Charlie was forced to answer the existential question, “Without my guitar, who am I?” The naming of this album reflects his quest to find himself as he struggled to rehab his shoulder and relearn playing with plates and pins where muscle and tissue used to be. During his journey of self discovery, he revisited some of his favorite earlier songs and wrote some insightful new ones.

I’m happy to report that Charlie’s picking and strumming is a strong as ever. In fact, on songs like, “Running, Jumping, Standing Still,” Mag Wheels,” “Annie Melton,” and “Jubilee,” it’s downright giddy. Flowing as swiftly and effortlessly as a mountain stream, the notes from Charlie’s beloved resonator guitar carry his lyrics like autumn leaves swirling in a rapid current. It is a testament to his craft, that you’re compelled to ignore the details of the passing leaves just to enjoy the rushing rhythm of the river. It is acoustic Blues picking at its absolute finest.

Although his style of Blues is firmly rooted in the Mississippi delta and the sharecropper farmlands of the deep South, his lyrics have the depth of Texas troubadours like Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and James McMurtry. He populates his songs with people from the periphery of polite society. And his Jack Sheldon (of Conjunction Junction fame) voice brings their stories to life with the warmth of a favorite uncle’s tall tales by a winter’s fire. “To A Scrapyard Bus Stop,” describes a chance encounter with a vagrant woman that “I know that I knew her. I can’t think how. But it’s a long time gone anyway from the way she is now.” “Heavy” describes a man carrying his burdens as best he can singing, “All my relations live in my blood, see through my eyes at all I’ve done. I carry them with me all along my way. If I only listen to what they say, might get easier. Maybe not. Teach me to be grateful for all I got.” “Asa Jones Blues,” tells the story of an ill-fated panhandler who may or may not be the source of a secret confession in “Cheap Wine.” Then there’s the comical “On Stealing A Sailboat,” which tells the story of two friends talking each other into a nautical nightmare. Much more than typical, “My woman done left me and the drought killed the crops,” Blues lyrics; Parr provides poetic insights and imaginative stories. Like the best of the troubadours, much of the impact of his lyrics derives from what he leaves to the imagination.

He gives you murders without motives, sadness without sources, and confessions without details. Even when dealing with heartbreak in “Love Is An Unraveling Bird’s Nest,” he eschews evil woman stereotypes and reflects that, “You might never notice it, but when it’s forever gone; love is an unraveling bird’s nest falling a straw upon the ground.” He shows how love doesn’t die with a packed suitcase and a slammed door, but with a thousand little missed communications that weaken the nest one straw at a time.

With masterful guitar picking, provocative lyrics and an authentic, down home voice, Charlie Parr is American music distilled to its very essence. For fans of roots music, Parr scores a hole in one.

charlieparr.com  |  fb  |  buy

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

Comments are closed.