Robert “Freightrain” Parker release Outside Ourselves (LP)
The talents of bassist, songwriter, and vocalist Robert “Freightrain” Parker and his six piece band Freightrain have made a huge impact on the Americana and blues scene already, thanks to their fine first release Freightrain Live. His second album Outside Ourselves promises, however, to accelerate an already meteoric rise and provides the band with a bevy of new five star live material. Parker and his musical cohorts have played throughout the world bringing their brand of blues, soul, and funk to the masses, but the Buffalo based musician is Americana all the way through and other labels don’t matter. It’s also a treat to hear how he treats this traditional minded music with the relevance and immediacy it demands to be successful rather than being too reverential. This approach and the talent to back it up results in one of the year’s best albums from anyone.
“Elijah” begins the album in a frankly audacious way. An eight minute instrumental doesn’t announce itself in the same way some raucous soul or blues rock number might have, but Parker and his band mates play by their own rules. It has a magical quality underlined by an extended opening awash with wayward yet melodic instrumentation that the musicians seemingly will into shape. Once the song fully emerges, it’s a relaxed melodic jewel often revisiting the same ground as it moves on, but invariably with small, meaningful variations and thoughtful emotional depth. The personal nature of “Better Man” benefits from the song’s superb groove; newcomers to Parker’s music will immediately hear why he is such a renowned bassist and the rhythm section heft carrying this song along makes it all the more appealing.
The title song, like “Better Man”, highlights the instrumental prowess of the band as well as Parker’s deeply soulful voice. The intelligent songwriting consistently defining Outside Ourselves from the first isn’t purist in any way; Parker and his band mates sound equally convincing in every idiom. “Don’t Stop the Music” promises to be a rollicking joyful ride based on its title alone and more than lives up to its billing, but it’s all the more remarkable because Parker and his band retains an innate tastefulness instead of opting to go overboard. The polish, both in songwriting and production, doesn’t hamper this recording, but instead makes it pop with real live punch.
Freightrain dispenses with the horns and funk of the aforementioned song with the track “Dark Season Blues”. It launches into a steady roll from the first and the organ riffing punctuating the song enlivens an already first rate song. Parker claims the band isn’t really a blues band and that definitely isn’t their sole identity, but this song proves it is an important part of who they are. Parker bookends the album with a reprise of the opener “Elijah” that focuses a little more on lead guitar, but nonetheless largely conforms to the opener, albeit in much more condensed fashion. Outside Ourselves is an outstanding album without a single filler track and the level of musicianship at work here is impossible to deny or ignore.
PURCHASE LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Outside-Ourselves/dp/B071DPQX8S