CD Review - Charlie Parr "Barnswallow"

Poke around a bit in folkie singer/songwriter Charlie Parr's life and you'll keep coming across articles by self appointed critics about how unschooled this guy is. But Charlie Parr sounds no rougher than Bob Dylan's asthmatic duck impersonation or John Prine' nasal twang.

Barnswallow, Parr is similar to Prine in content and in tone. And however his personal demons may adversely affect him in live performance, on this record, Parr is easy listening music, folky without being hokey.   “Jesus is a Hobo” is classic Prine: sardonic, simple yet profound in the wish-I'd-said-that mode with Jesus as  a train-hopping bum wearing  a purple  robe underneath his coveralls.  It's  pretty as well, with smooth, family style harmony courtesy of  wife Emily.

Parr goes a bit into the vocal irritation zone with his high and lonesome warbling on My Wife Left Me,” an Appalachian lament with a banjo lead backed by barefoot percussion and an injection of jew-harp.

Sounding a bit like Leo Kottke, “Groundhog Day Blues” is a full tilt rip with some fleet fingerpicking on his 12 string National.

Parr switches to Resonator for “Motorcycle Blues,” howlin' like Dylan in his two wheeler period while Dave Hundreiser tries to blow all the reeds out of his harp.

Old Charlie may not be breaking any new ground here, but it's a pretty good way to pass the time without insulting your ears or your intelligence, which is about a good a review as most music is deserving of these days.

By Grant Britt

Views: 603

Comment by Ramcey on January 25, 2013 at 5:04am

I love Charlie's albums, and so does Greg Brown, who talks-up Charlie's work all the time. So glad to see some coverage for him here on ND!           

Ramcey in Nashville

Comment by Ian Thomas Alexy on January 25, 2013 at 11:59am

Im also glad to see one of the best and hardest working songwriters Charlie Parr in here!  However there is one point in here that irked me a little.  The sentence "And however his personal demons may adveresly affect him in a live performance."  This seems to suggest that he is an erradic live performer.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I have lived in Minnesota for the past decade and have seen Charlie perform...probably 100 times.  I have never seen him intoxicated onstage and have never seen him put on a bad show.  As a matter of fact each time I have seen him he has gotten a little bit better and always has new material.  The man is a consumate professional.  Make no mistake about it.

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.