Charlie Parr – Stumpjumper

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A roots man of integrity with a predilection for truly vintage vibes, Minnesota’s Charlie Parr
has made his career hollering, picking, and stomping his way through
the Midwest and beyond, leaving a trail of fine records that feel just a
shade away from the great rural folk and blues songs of Harry Smith‘s epic Anthology of American Folk Music.
Eschewing proper studios whenever possible, his lo-fi releases have
been captured in storefronts, warehouses, and garages or live on-stage
in several cases. Now 13 years into his recording career and with more
than a dozen albums either self-released or scattered across the globe
on tiny indies, Parr has settled in with St. Paul’s Grammy-winning folk label Red House Records (Greg Brown, Loudon Wainwright III),
just a couple of hours away from his Duluth home. While signing with
Red House might feel like a sort of Midwestern homecoming, Stumpjumper, his debut for the label, is a bit of a departure. Recorded in North Carolina with producer Phil Cook of the psych-folk group Megafaun, the album is Parr‘s first solo effort to feature a full backing band. A sort of hybrid of his previous production styles, Stumpjumper
(the title is a Jeep culture reference to off-roading), is as live and
red-blooded as anything in his catalog, but the added thump of drums,
electric bass, fiddle, and additional guitars gives songs like the
excellent “Falcon” and “Frank Miller Blues” a vibrancy that suits his
woolly, homespun style. The wild buzz of loose strings, the ramshackle
percussion, the occasional fuzzed-out guitar, and Parr‘s
own National steel, banjo, and 12-string playing create a joyful noise
that can just as quickly turn dark, as on the haunting “Resurrection” or
the wistful “Over the Red Cedar,” a lovely ode to the unwavering
passage of time. Parr
has only gotten better as a songwriter, and his spirited performances
here are augmented well by this strong group effort.

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