Lee Roy Parnell

Midnight Believer

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It took Lee Roy Parnell a long time to deliver a sequel to Back to the Well, the 2006 album that found the onetime country singer devoting himself to the blues. Midnight Believer, released 11 years after Back to the Well, finds Parnell following a similar soulful blues direction, settling into a supple Southern groove while occasionally finding time for outsized rave-ups. As good as the SRV-styled fanfare of the opener, "Hours in Between," is, the key to the album is those soft, sweet moments when Parnell gets to ride a laid-back rhythm, croon words of love, and lay down a few lyrical leads. This sound is so alluring that when he cranks things up on "Want Whatcha' Have" -- arriving at the midway point, or where the second side would naturally start -- it's disconcerting, feeling ham-handed. This impression is only only accentuated by the effectiveness of its immediate successor, the tightly wound Hendrix-ian "Hair of the Dog," the tune that kicks off a slightly livelier second half, but even if the volume is a touch louder, what appeals is Parnell's light touch: with only a few exceptions, he's not pushing so hard, he's relying on his refined skills and the results are quite enjoyable.

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