Charlie Parr – Roustabout
The cover drawing of a rooster is a very good visual indication of the music on this LP; namely feisty, direct, brazen and no-nonsense folk. To be honest it should come as no surprise, as Parr’s previous LPs (well, the three I’ve heard) are very much cut from the same cloth. This is truly great Americana, and a classic example of the genre, so to speak. This time, a number of traditional tracks (a haunting Walk Around My Bedside and a barnstorming version of God Moves on the Water are two such) compete with some cracking banjo or guitar-led Parr compositions. Of the latter, Warmed by the Devils Fire is a heady stew of fantastically strange storytelling and up tempo plucking that can’t fail to charm. The following track shows the more sensitive side to Parr’s abilities. Midnight has Come and Gone is a beautiful, haunting introspection, with a noticeable anger and defiance giving the track a tremendously charged emotional undercurrent.
This LP is also an fine lesson in how to exploit live, direct-to-tape home recording; simply put, if your music and message has presence and you are committed enough to do your work justice, it doesn’t need polishing up. The likes of Come Along and See and the fabulously chirpy Cropduster are brilliant by virtue of the manner of the performance Parr puts in as much as anything else
If you will forgive the pun, there are a lot of people ploughing this particular furrow, but out of all of them, I like this guy the most. His music has got charm that you simply can’t fabricate.
Words: Richard Foster