Spin - "[With] songs influenced by folk, blues, and -- yeah -- gospel. The album is a Southern gothic take on end times, those of the truly apocalyptic variety and those, like on the lover's lament 'Morning Blues,' that simply feel like it."
Personnel: Parker Millsap (vocals, guitar); Daniel Foulks (violin, fiddle); Tim Laver (accordion, keyboards); Michael Rose (upright bass, electric bass); Patrick Ryan (drums, percussion); Aoife O'Donovan, Sarah Jarosz , Caitlyn Doyle, Erika Attwater, Sara Watkins (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Gary Paczosa.
Recording information: Dockside Studio, Maurice, Louisiana.
Photographer: Laura E. Partain.
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. ~ Timothy Monger