Saturday, March 11, 2017

Middle: Meet You In The Middle

Parker McCollum is an up and coming Austin-based country rocker. His debut, The Limestone Kid, is a captivating mix of sounds, immediately familiar to fans of Texas Red Dirt country, but full of a great sense of energy that pushes this collection past whatever genre label you’d want to apply. McCollum’s songs are made for radio, made for driving, but there’s also a touch of melancholy that puts him in some pretty interesting shared company as a songwriter. Think, really handsome cowboy poet, strumming away outside church, not really taking part in the service, but well aware of all that talk about sin and redemption. McCollum moves deftly from soul-tinged tales of heartbreak to rockers burning with country twang. His take on Americana covers a lot of landscape and he avoids the stereotypical lyrical and imagistic content so much ‘new’ country seems to traffic in. Despite his young age, McCollum is rooted not only in an old soul’s world view, but his sound has a distressed, age-worn feel that makes the music a little timeless, in the very best way.

McCollum has had some success with “Meet You in the Middle”, a perfectly penned bit of breakup poetry, talking about being left behind, and having to deal with all the parts of life that don’t seem to stop for heartache or the lowliness of feeling like you’ve been screwed over. I love how the song deals with an angry bout of loneliness, but set to a soaring soundtrack of pedal steel, a rolling lead guitar rollickingly picked like a banjo line, and a tempo that rises and falls in a mimic of the narrator’s emotional ebb and flow between sadness and strange optimism as he tries to catch up, but never gets that far.

The Limestone Kid is a fantastic album from a songwriter with a literary, poetic bent and a knack for writing the kind of songs that could fall into multiple musical categories and fit right in. This is country, to be sure, but it goes beyond the trappings of Texas and Nashville to traverse a landscape of McCollum’s own tuneful, addictively singalong-worthy design. This is a road trip collection of songs, and you'll be glad for taking the ride.

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