Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This is the follow up to 2016’s These American Blues. That is not an easy proposition. To top that or even tie it, would take something special. Well Levi rose to the occasion, as he always does. This album is definitely more rock oriented, where These American Blues was a little more soul and folk based. It is a perfect transition into a new journey. I thought These American Blues was as good as it gets. I was mistaken. I’ts All Good is as good as it gets, so far.
Levi’s voice is versatile whether he is singing folk, soul, country, or rock. In this case the smooth vocals blend into each offering like the way wine ages in the barrel. There is also a healthy dose of psychedelia on It’s All Good. Some of the arrangements and guitar solos are pure mind benders. I will highlight in further detail when I explore some of the individual songs.
Although Levi’s musical style has evolved, one thing is a constant: that soulful voice. My Finest Hour (Track 4) is a perfect showcase for that Sam Cooke style of vocals we have come to expect. Mr. Parham delivers. The first five minutes start out as an R&B ballad and morphs into a three minute Allman Brothers/Dead jam. One of the most complete and beautiful songs I heard in quite a while. When eight minutes seems short, I know the song is a winner.
I couldn’t think of a better follow up to the previous number than Boxmeer Blues (Track 5). This is rock and roll. Perfect vocals with some utterly magical backing vocals provided by Lauren Barth and Lauren Farrah. This song makes me think of another Oklahoma native, JJ Cale. I wonder if there is a connection. I would bet there is. Levi is very proud and celebrates his Oklahoma heritage.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the opening track Badass Bob (Track 1). The opening is brilliant, it begins with a simple drum beat and builds into a bluesy/swampy mix with some serious funk. This is a tale about a criminal named, you guessed it, Badass Bob. Levi belts this tune out like a veteran delta blues man. The guitar solo is nothing short of spectacular.
If we are on the subject of delta blues, Heavyweight (Track 7) must be in the conversation. The intro is pure country blues with a good pinch of slide guitar. The words are a very clever drawing comparison between a boxer and and being someone’s advocate. This song has one hell of a groove and just rocks.
My expectations were high on It’s All Good and Levi exceeded them. This is one fine album and will easily be one the year’s best. If you buy one piece of music this year, it should be It’s All Good for the very simple reason, it is all good.