The lyrics on the album are mostly on the mellow side, and when Parnell cranks up the energy level it goes toward funky rather than toward fast. Parnell is back on a major Nashville label now (Universal South). Accordingly, he's got quite a few songs about love and inspiration on the new set. But when he taps the vein of dissatisfaction that lies behind really great pop songs, the results are as good as anything coming out of Nashville these days. He does a song about the point at which "a young heart becomes an old soul" that Patty Loveless recorded a couple of years ago, but with his cascade of mournful electric guitar sounds Parnell gets even more out of it than Loveless did.
The Ark has booked some great country acts that aren't currently on top of the charts but have continued to develop musically Deana Carter did a fine show there recently, and Hal Ketchum and Suzy Bogguss are regulars. It's a noteworthy move; comparable folk and acoustic music clubs, like Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music and Berkeley's Freight & Salvage, don't do this. Lee Roy Parnell and his band come to the Ark on Wednesday, March 15.
[Review published March 2006]