Artist: Levi Parham
Album: These American Blues
Label: Music Road
Release Date: 06/24/2016
The Oklahoma native son bursts forth with a fresh, vital sounding auspicious full album debut. Don’t let the title fool you, though– there may be subtle touches of blues influences, but this leans much more toward contemporary country and country soul. Parham himself says, “My dad was a big blues fan growing up, so it was kind of inevitable that I was surrounded by it. He was always playing Muddy Waters and stuff like that at the house, but really my biggest influence was more of like the soul guys like Van Morrison and people like that, Sam Cooke.”
As I’ve said about previous Music Road releases, this label continues to produce some of most clear, brightest sounding records of any label. Label co-owner Jimmy LaFave produces and brings aboard stellar keyboardist Radoslav Lorkovic, rising guitar star Seth Lee Jones and veteran guitarist Tim Easton to round out the sound. Jones is unusual in that his unique setup allows him to play pedal steel guitar licks without that actual instrument. There aren’t a lot of other performers attempting that, but building his own equipment enables him to do it. Now, let’s go to Parham. His voice is easy to listen to because it has just enough of soul to come across honestly. He has a gift for melody and tons of infectious hooks that mix the roots music genres.
These are mostly love songs, and the single, “Steal Me,” is already getting considerable airplay. On the title track, Parham relays this about his inspiration, “It came about one day while talking with my dad. He had just gotten a smart phone and had proclaimed to me that “there weren’t nothin’ left to find out.” I laughed so hard at that, but there was truth to it. Half the fun of dreaming is searching the whole thing out, figuring out what your dream is and how you get there. I know nothing about cars, but from one YouTube video I could take the whole engine apart and put it back together. I didn’t earn that knowledge. I didn’t spend my high school nights in the garage trying to figure that stuff out. There’s something lost there, and that’s where These American Blues came from.” There’s a mix of up-tempo tunes and ballads, the latter of which best reveal the strength of Parham’s voice which has a nice mix of grit and fluidity. Check out these tunes which also feature nice accompaniment from Lorkovic and Jones: “Just the Man to Tell Me So,” “Wrong Way to Hold a Man” and “Your Blue Eyes Give You Away”. Other highlights include the haunting “Chemical Train” and the gorgeous closer, “Love Comes Around.”
Parham may not take your breath away, but he’ll give you some great moments with his refreshing sound.
– Jim Hynes
Stream the album on our website HERE.