New release Parker Millsap
New Release ‘Be Here Instead’
Out April 9, 2021
Through Okrahoma Records/Thirty Tigers/Cooking Vinyl Australia
The fifth album from Oklahoma-bred singer/songwriter Parker Millsap, Be Here Instead emerged from a wild alchemy of instinct, ingenuity and joyfully determined rule-breaking. In a departure from the guitar-and-notebook-based approach to songwriting that shaped his earlier work, the Nashville-based artist followed his curiosity to countless other modes of expression, experimenting with everything from piano to effects pedals to old-school drum machines.
Produced by John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth, Waxahatchee) and mainly recorded live with Millsap’s full band, Be Here Instead marks a stylistic shift from the gritty and high-energy folk of his previous output, including 2018’s acclaimed Other Arrangements and 2016’s The Very Last Day (the latter being an Americana Music Association Awards nominee for Album of the Year).
Be Here Instead forgoes the character-driven storytelling of his past in favour of a more introspective and revelatory form of lyricism, an element he traces back to the charmed nature of his songwriting process: “Because the lyrics were appearing seemingly out of nowhere and with no prior intent, some of them started to feel like transmissions from my subconscious, rather than the preconceived linear stories or waking thoughts of my earlier songs,” says Millsap. “They feel like words I needed to hear from myself, and not just things I wanted to say to someone else.”
The brilliant and dramatically cascading “Dammit” gives us an insight of what to expect from the new record:
The song began as a complex and slow-paced ballad, then evolved into a kinetic two-chord anthem. “Dammit” unfolds as an unlikely epic that perfectly captures the nuances of frustration (“It’s hard to be a dancer, baby, when you’re living in your head”) while working up a furious momentum that’s nothing less than exhilarating.
In looking back on the making of Be Here Instead, Millsap points out that his recently discovered love of painting also informed the free-flowing creativity he brought to the album. “My wife’s grandfather was an artist who did watercolor paintings, and a few years ago I decided I wanted to try it,” he says. “I very quickly found out that watercolors are really hard to work with: you have to embrace your mistakes, and then let them guide you along. It’s made me think about how when you mess up, you’re basically revealing your humanity, which is what music’s all about. When I listen to records, I love when Ray Charles’s voice cracks, or when you hear the squeaking of the kick-drum pedal on a Led Zeppelin song. Anything that shows the living, breathing quality of the whole thing—that’s always wonderful. That’s what we’re here for. So don’t be afraid to let it happen.”
About Parker Millsap
Although Be Here Instead often finds Millsap wandering into new terrain, the album remains firmly grounded in the sophisticated musicianship he began honing as a kid growing up in the small town of Purcell. Raised on Texas singer/songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, he started writing songs on acoustic guitar in his early teens, then made his debut at the age of nineteen with the 2012 album Palisade.
With his self-titled sophomore effort arriving in 2014, Millsap released both The Very Last Day and Other Arrangements to widespread praise. Through the years, he’s also made his name as a captivating live act (Listening Through The Lens caught him on the Cayamo Music Cruise back in 2017), opening for the likes of Jason Isbell, Patty Griffin and Lucinda Williams and taking the stage at major festivals like Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, and Newport Folk Fest. And in a particularly memorable turn of events, Millsap joined singer/songwriter Sarah Jarosz for a 2016 show in Atlanta and drew raves from none other than Sir Elton John, who hailed the performance as “one of the best concerts I have ever seen” and noted that the night “restored my faith in music.”
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New release Parker Millsap