Parker Millsap. Other Arrangements. Thirty Tigers

613t20bttl-_sl1200_When a tremendous crash of electric guitars rang out as this CD began to spin I thought it was the wrong disc playing. Where was the folkie Okie one was expecting? The song, Fine Line, thrashes about with Millsap ripping ferocious chords from his guitar and snarling the words coming across like Jack White. It is surprising but there’s some wild fiddle flailing away throughout the song reminding us that this is supposed to be country as opposed to rock. As the opening song (and the lead single) of the album it’s mildly misleading however as the remainder of the album, although pretty chunky as it shows off its muscle, is nowhere as wild as this.

Careful perusal of the disc allows that Millsap is still writing and singing about his deep rooted southern concerns much as he did on his first two albums but here the songs are dressed up. For the most part this works. There’s a wonderful southern soul feel to Your Water while Tell Me is a fine and fluid bluesy workout which adroitly avoids becoming a 12 bar lumber adorned as it is with fiddle and a string section. Coming On, with its female backing chorus, harks back to Leon Russell days and She, a delightful salute to a perfect partner, sashays wonderfully with inventive guitar parts twinkling from the beginning as Millsap performs some fine vocal acrobatics. Let A Little Light In meanwhile is a whip smart power pop song which is quite exhilarating in its light and shade dynamics and the title song is a tremendously sinewy slice of country tinged rock with fiddler Daniel Foulks stamping his mark over the muscular guitars on a song which approaches a Little Feat like discipline.

It has to be said that Singing To Me, which opens promisingly with Millsap singing over a simple acoustic guitar, loses its way somewhat with a somewhat syrupy arrangement. And right now the jury here is out on Gotta Get to You, a frenzied thrash which to our ears sounds like a juvenile Springsteen although there’s no doubting the powerful bass and drums which drive the song.

Millsap sounds like Millsap as we know him on Good Night and on Come Back When You Can’t Stay but they are relative islands of calm within the stormy waters he churns up elsewhere. This is an album which we initially struggled with but over time it’s grown in our affections and it would be interesting to hear it in a live setting given that Millsap and his band are reputed to be the bees knees on stage.

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