Your Permanent Record is a recurring column written by Brian Thomas covering the back catalog of bands that will be playing in the southwest Michigan area. Charlie Parr plays The Livery on Saturday, November 9th. Read on for more details.

At first glance, fourteen albums into a career might seem a strange time to name one after yourself. When you’re acclaimed folk blues artist Charlie Parr, recovering from a devastating injury a year prior that left you unable to play your guitar, it starts to make sense.

Charlie Parr

If you’re new to Charlie’s work, Charlie Parr works as a brilliant introduction to a songwriter working at the peak of his powers. The production is sparse, yet intimate. In its softer moments, much of this album feels like you’re listening to Charlie play guitar on a tree-shaded porch on a sun-soaked Appalachian afternoon. The album opens with one of its strongest tracks, “Love is an Unraveling Bird’s Nest.” Chiming waves of fingerpicked guitar surround Charlie’s weary but hopeful lyrics. “To a Scrapyard Bus Stop” follows, a story about a chance encounter with a former acquaintance who has fallen on hard times. The song is a lullaby, soft as your favorite old flannel shirt, yet this lullaby is wrapped around a core of deep melancholy, an ache from the restless, changing nature of the world.

“On Stealing a Sailboat” showcases Mr. Parr’s blazing resonator guitar licks along with his wicked sense of humor. Charlie is an evocative storyteller in the best traditions of folk and blues troubadours like Mississippi John Hurt, Bob Dylan, or even Bruce Springsteen. “Mag Wheels” is especially strong in this regard, a story about the love of a small town boy for his car.

The album reaches its apex on the meditative “Heavy.” The lyrics find Charlie musing on living in the moment rather than future or past, while acknowledging the weight of both at the same time. “Past ain’t over, it’s happenin’ now, I can wade this water any time I want, learn some lessons, right some wrongs, make me stronger, and I’ll lift that stone”

Charlie Parr is at once contemplative and restless, a portrait of a man who is thinking about the path he took to arrive at the present day while eyeballing the road into the future. Charlie Parr will perform with Shawn Butzin opening at The Livery on Saturday, November 9th. Doors at 8:00 PM.

Points of Entry:
Charlie Parr – Charlie Parr – 2019
Charlie Parr – King Earl – 2004

Hidden Gems:
Charlie Parr & The Black Twig Pickers – Glory in the Meeting House – 2010

Brian Thomas