Parker Millsap – The Very Last Day

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The first thing you notice about Parker Millsap
is the immediacy of his delivery. His fiery take on Americana — a
genre more than happy to wallow in its time-tested tropes — somehow
manages to come across as fresh without his having to reinvent the
wheel. The bluesy guitar, harmonica, fiddle, and early rock rhythms
offer a familiar enough framework, but the raspy intensity of his high
tenor vocals and the electricity of his craft put him in a league of his
own on his third LP, The Very Last Day. Millsap
emerged nationally in 2014 with a self-titled second LP that earned
plenty of critical accolades and netted him prime support slots with
roots rock veterans like Old Crow Medicine Show and Jason Isbell.
Raised a Pentecostal Christian in the small town of Purcell, Oklahoma,
he attacks themes of belief and sin with a wry vigor and will cross
whatever lines he pleases to tell his tales. His anxious energy spills
out from the get-go with the frenzied opener “Hades Pleads,” a
razor-sharp rocker confronting the Greek god of the underworld. Quickly
switching gears, Millsap channels a bit of Sam Cooke
in the soulful crooning of “Pining,” then pares down further on the
powerful “Heaven Sent,” which takes the form of a conversation between a
gay son coming out to his preacher father. Recalling the Louvin Brothers, another American act who famously melded religion with nuclear apocalypse on their 1952 single “The Great Atomic Power,” Millsap‘s
gospel-blues title track takes a more cathartic approach as he bellows
“Ain’t no reason being so afraid/Yeah you can try to hide but it’s gonna
get you anyway!” The confidence in his approach is infectious, and in
spite of his occasionally weighty subjects, The Very Last Day is an entirely energizing listen.

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