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