Charlie Parr – Little Sun (2024) [Official Digital Download 24bit/48kHz]

Charlie Parr – Little Sun (2024)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 41:04 minutes | 476 MB | Genre: Blues, Folk
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Over the last couple of decades, Charlie Parr has crisscrossed the world on tour more times than one can count. He also has released over a dozen albums of his songs, acclaimed for their poetic simplicity. Little Sun, his most ambitious album to date, was recorded with Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, My Morning Jacket) and features Parr augmenting his raw and affecting songs with stunning full-band arrangements. The remarkable backing band here includes Marisa Anderson, Victor Krummenacher, Andrew Borger, and Asher Fulero. Masterfully channeling the philosophical and transcendental qualities of the blues, Parr takes us on a journey through the winding streets of his imagination.

With more than 15 intentionally raw albums under his belt—all recorded live and with mostly first takes and plenty of little imperfections included—Minnesotan singer-songwriter Charlie Parr has decided to try something new. For his first record on Smithsonian Folkways, Little Sun, the Piedmont blues devotee enlisted Tucker Martine (Sufjan Stevens, the Decemberists) as producer, opening the door to overdubs and a full band sound that doesn’t get lost in the corners. While purists may grumble, it’s a treat to really hear everything clearly. Parr’s countrified, frayed-edge guitar shines on “Portland Avenue,” but so do Asher Fulero’s rolling piano and Anna Tivel’s shadow of vocal harmony. Shuffling and good-natured, the song evokes Dylan with The Band and ponders how we live so close to neighbors without really knowing their lives: “Don’t you wonder where Annie went/ After the third time they picked her up?/ No one here has seen her since/ And I’ve got an apartment full of her stuff.” “Bear Head Lake” benefits from the clarity, as Parr’s sun-dappled guitar ebbs and flows and a gentle rhythm splashes like water reaching the shore; the song builds, gathering steam, until it’s really cooking at a full boil. It’s all evocative of a place in Minnesota’s northern reaches, as Parr sings of how “Receding plumes of ash/ Like water ripple through the sky/ Bring chaos to the radio waves/ Deafening our information.” “Pale Fire” is likewise atmospheric, as he draws out syllables, using hard-edged consonants as a protective shield. Low drum rumble blows in and out as Parr’s guitar picks out a path, note by note, like a guide who doesn’t need a map to confidently understand the terrain. “I fell and surrendered on damp fallen leaves,” he sings, acknowledging we are all at nature’s mercy. “Little Sun” is easy-fit backporch blues, its harmonica blare like a slow-moving train. A breezy J.J. Cale-style vamp, “Sloth” pairs piano and guitar as playful duet partners. “Ten Watt” ropes in a winking fiddle and a loose, low-slung rhythm for a honking good time. And “Boombox” is a corker—a Levon Helm-esque ragtime hoe-down, piano wailing and drum hits like parting shots, even as Parr, who sounds like he’s having a ball, applies steady, deft fingerwork amidst all the chaos. – Shelly Ridenour

1-1. Charlie Parr – Portland Avenue (04:29)
1-2. Charlie Parr – Little Sun (03:57)
1-3. Charlie Parr – Bear Head Lake (07:20)
1-4. Charlie Parr – Boombox (03:55)
1-5. Charlie Parr – Pale Fire (07:31)
1-6. Charlie Parr – Ten Watt (05:30)
1-7. Charlie Parr – Stray (04:40)
1-8. Charlie Parr – Sloth (03:39)


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