It’s all clean, Christian, country fun until someone gets dragged down to Hell, and the saint, sitting in the second pew, becomes a sinner in the back row. Wherever Park Millsap takes you in one of his stories, it’s a journey a long ways away from the comfort of your living room. The voice that howls from this young country up-and-comer is as authentic as his Oklahoma-raised Southern charm and theological romanticism that courses through his latest LP, "The Very Last Day". Millsap is the pinnacle of grit and eloquence packaged together in one country musician, ripe at the age of 23, but old in spirit and mature in sound. As ageless as his tales are, the singer demolishes the restrictions of what it means to be a young songwriter, and demands a place at the centre of the country music scene.
On July 14th, Parker Millsap made his television debut on Conan’s Late Night show, granting him exposure past the tight-knit country community. In this performance, Millsap is accompanied by a band made up of mostly stringed instruments, each of which provides an intricate texture of sound behind the gristle of Parker’s jagged rock n’ roll growl. The song played is the title track off of The Very Last Day, and is for the most part, stripped down, allowing for each musician to play a vital role in moments of sparseness. But there is also a hard, bluesy-rock edge that Millsap and Co. bring to the table, serving up a slice of pie, not sweet enough for you to believe this country-boy is the perfect Christian he sometimes sings about.
You can watch Parker’s performance below:
After earning himself recognition off of the single from his second album, “Truck Stop Gospel,” the singer has succeeded himself well with the the third album, "The Very Last Day". Much like “Truck Stop Gospel,” the album tells many interesting stories, keeping along with Millsap’s theological motif that helps to categorize his sound. While most of his tracks reflect on the church and Christian faith, it seems that Parker is more caught up in the world of religion than he is following it, and at many times, he is rebelling against it. “Papa I don’t need a preacher/I ain’t some kind of creature/From some old double feature/I just want to make you proud/Of the kind of love I’ve found,” he croons in “Heaven Sent”.
For the most part it seems as if Millsap is longing for the same thing that every 23-year old is longing for: a little bit of risky business and a crazed infatuation. In the opening track, “Hades Pleads,” the devil emerges as a temptation of wealth and greed to lure in the woman of his choice. “I’ll give you everything you want pretty girl/You could rule over the underworld/A coal mine full of diamonds and a string of black pearls,” sings Parker, at times breathing heavily over the roar of his violin accompaniment.
In “Hands Up”, we hear Millsap portray an outlaw, looking to be saved, and finding himself more lost than ever. “I went to church and sat in the very last pew/Preacher said Jesus would save my soul/But he never showed up when we were out on patrol/And a bomb went off.”
However much of the album takes place in the church, this country record has more swagger than prayer. While Millsap may sing and perform as if he is much older than his early twenties, his lyricism is suiting for any listener begging to get lost in the twang of a dark and victimless side of America’s prolific bible belt.