Parker Millsap “Fine Line” (2018)

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This is a hit song, right? A big time, wide scale hit. Listen to it, it’s got to be. (But of course, it won’t be). There was a time when songs like this were played on mainstream rock stations, but that time was long ago. Can you imagine if groups like Marshall Tucker and the Charlie Daniels Band had been sequestered away into some second tier sub-category, and not been played alongside all the classic rock bands with which they are considered brethren?

So what segregates a great song like this – and so many others like it – to the figurative backwoods of musical categorization? And, by the way, who the heck is Parker Millsap? The answers are, in a sense, one and the same. Millsap is a 25-year old Oklahoman, whose three prior excellent and lyrically adroit albums were all well-received within his, shall we say, abridged musical community, leaving him dutifully stamped as a seriously  notable, up-and-coming country/folksy Americana artist. Which is fine. Which is great. But with the release of his 4th album just a few months ago, titled with the clever double-entendre Other Arrangements, Millsap steps boldly in new musical directions, new rocking directions, nowhere more notably than on this song, the opening track and lead single, ‘Fine Line’.

Some have definitely noticed: The Associated Press wrote “Parker Millsap rocks harder than ever on his fourth album” and Rolling Stone calls Other Arrangements Parker’s “Tightest, sharpest and most infectious set of songs to date.” That’s also great. And accurate. Again, just listen to this tune: It’s a two-and-a-half-minute stomp straight out of a vintage power pop/rock song mold. It blasts off instantly with a turbo-charged riff, finds Millsap’s literary verses taking shape in wild, soulful ranting, and – heaven forbid – leaves room for a stylish solo fiddle break just over midway through. Then in the last 30 seconds Millsap dynamically escalates his delivery to a fever-driven mania, concluding with the line from his thrice-repeated chorus “But honey I don’t bite, I’m just a little bloodthirsty” and when he holds out that last word “blooooooood-thirsty!” for a solid 6 seconds of Vedder-like screaming, well you can call it what you want, but I’m calling it goddamn rock and roll.

In describing his new material, Millsap said he’d begun thinking differently about how he wanted his music to hit listener’s ears. “I wasn’t trying to blow anybody’s mind, just to get stuck in their head.” This one’s velcro stuck in mine. And that makes it a hit song to me.


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