Parker Millsap didn’t know not to sing like this. Listening to old albums as a kid alone in his room, he didn’t realize howling like a Delta blues ghost readying the world for rock-and-roll isn’t how a skinny white boy from Purcell, Oklahoma usually sounds. In the midst of a world so fond of condemnation as entertainment, Millsap’s rootsy rock-and-roll poetry offers open-armed love of people and their stories. New album The Very Last Day is the anticipated follow-up to his eponymous 2014 release, which netted him high-profile praise from NPR, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and others, as well as a nomination for Americana Emerging Artist of the Year. Whether the 23-year-old is singing from the perspective of a convenience store robber haunted by his past, or as the King of the Underworld wild with passion, his character-driven songs mine deep wells of joy and despair to create gut-punching narratives that are sometimes hellish, sometimes heavenly, and always human.
"I really like that word," Sarah Jarosz says of the title of Undercurrent, her fourth Sugar Hill album. "If you look up the definition, it's 'an underlying feeling or influence' or 'a flow of water moving below the surface.' To me, that really encompasses the feeling behind this record."
That evocative imagery is appropriate for Undercurrent, whose 11 original songs seem to reveal new lyrical depth and sonic nuance with every listen. A gifted multi-instrumentalist, a singularly expressive vocalist and a songwriter of rare insight, Sarah Jarosz has been described by The New York Times as "one of acoustic music's most promising young talents: a singer-songwriter and mandolin and banjo prodigy with the taste and poise to strike that rare balance of commercial and critical success."