Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I am looking forward to June 24th. That is the release date for These American Blues by Levi Parham on Music Road Records. Parham, a native of Oklahoma, delivers the goods on this record. I don’t know what it is about Oklahoma, but it is becoming sacred ground for musicians. Parham joins an esteemed list of fellow Oklahomans including The Flaming Lips, Turnpike Troubadours, and JD McPherson.
Do you know when people taste wine and they say they taste things like peppermint stick, currants, or smoke? I am not sure if they really taste those things. But when I listen to this record, I certainly hear blues, soul, Americana, and classic country. These elements work in perfect harmony, like a nice glass of wine.
If there is such a thing as a perfect song, I think “Held In High Regard” is as close as it gets. The song starts off with a little acoustic guitar and a pretty gritty blues riff. Parham’s voice and lyrics accompany the music perfectly. This song is absolutely fantastic. Some songs require a few listens to actually draw a liking to them. Not this one, it hooked me from the opening notes and held me for the entire song. Definitely rooted in the blues but also has an R&B flavor to it. The backing vocals actually give it a nice gospel feel. The guitar solos, splashed with slide guitars, are just right. The perfect complement to the rest of the arrangement.
I don’t want to just offer my adulation to this track, as all the tracks are really good. It is just that “Held In High Regard” is a true standout. The record traverses beautifully between the genres and all are well represented. Songs like “These American Blues”, “Gonna Be A Long Day”, and “Waiting Game” do the Americana genre proud. Parham lists Sam Cooke and Van Morrison as influences and it really shows on tracks like “Ain’t The Man To Tell You So”, “Steal Me”, and “Your Blue Eyes Give You Away”. Another standout is the final track, “Love Comes Around”, a gorgeous, soulful ballad that has the makings of a super hit. This is a record that is a must have in any music aficionado’s collection. Go to Music Road Records on June 24th and make this purchase a priority.