BY JOHN B. MOORE
You can take the boy out of the church…
Oklahoma-native Parker Millsap was raised in the Pentecostal Church and it clearly shows. A bulk of the songs on this brilliant self-titled debut are slathered in old time, arms-outstretched religious themes – despite the fact that he has since left the church – from the preacher saving trucker’s souls (“Truck Stop Savior”) to End Times “When I Leave.”
Millsap does step outside of the church from time to time, like on “Disappear,” probably the closest thing to a true love song on the record, and “At the Bar,” the Wizard of Oz set in a honky tonk, but it’s the songs about religion that resonate the loudest.
What’s shocking, beyond how fantastic this album comes across (be it the first or 50th time you are listening to it), is that these songs roll of the tongue of a 20-year-old.It’s almost cheating to bring up a comparison like Bob Dylan, but it’s striking just how literate and musically strong these men were (are, in Millsap’s case) at such a young age. When ditties about nursing high school crushes are the norm for most musicians at 20, Millsap is creating expansive story lines and characters that would make Steinbeck jealous.
Backed by his acoustic guitar, a fiddle player, a bass and little else, Millsap’s record has a timelessness that will preserve it well years from now.
DOWNLOAD: “Truck Stop Gospel,” “Disappear” and “At the Bar”