Release Date: Mar 25, 2016
Record label: Okrahoma
On The Very Last Day Parker Millsap pours intensity into his songs, regardless of whether he’s rocking out with his band, quietly accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, or playing the blues as slow as molasses. Stylistically, Millsap embraces the same sort of anything goes Americana as genre stalwarts like Jason Isbell or the Lone Bellow. The Very Last Day features strong songwriting, insightful lyrics, and successful dabbling in several different musical styles.
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.
The first half of 2016 has seen a number of major country releases — some stellar (Loretta Lynn, Brandy Clark), some not-so-stellar (Keith Urban, Blake Shelton) — but it’s emerging and under-the-radar artists who have made the biggest impact on the genre lately. Whether it’s through sonic innovation (Dave Cobb’s Southern Family, Robert Ellis’ Robert Ellis) or progressive messages (Parker Millsap’s The Very Last Day, Margo Price’s Midwest Farmer’s Daughter), the best country music being made today is pushing the genre farther away from the homogeneous mess of cutoff jeans and cold, cold beers currently clogging country radio. Here’s hoping Beyoncé cuts her whole next album in Memphis.
These are apocalyptic times, and no one seems to know that better than the 23-year-old, Pentecostal-raised Oklahoma native Parker Millsap, whose sophomore album is suffused with spiritual depth and songwriting genius. A restless soul who sounds like a mix of Steve Earle and My Morning Jacket, Millsap actually confronts nuclear apocalypse on the title track (“Gonna clutch my heart and lift my face. .
Parker Millsap's sophomore LP kicks off raw and raucous, "Hades Pleads" chugging a howling blues that immediately showcases the 23-year-old's growth from his eponymous 2014 debut. The Oklahoma songwriter's eclectic roots reach likewise stretches impressively, from the soul-tinged "Pining" and trembled touch of "Morning Blues" to the cathartic apocalypse of "The Very Last Day." Centerpiece "Heaven Sent" draws poignant tension as a young gay man searches for reconciliation with his religious father, and while the gentle "Jealous Sun" and "A Little Fire" find Millsap still trying to tackle his higher trill effectively, "Tribulation Hymn" closes in fervent throwback gospel fashion. (Thu., 5pm, SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake) .