Photos by Belinda Boling
This is a good record; Everyone thinks so.
NPR, Rolling Stone Magazine and The New York Times rave about the record with the same dogged desperation Parker Millsap harnesses in his lyrics. I, too, find myself entranced with the Oklahoma singer-songwriter’s playful, yet stark Americana album “The Very Last Day.”
The opening track, “Hades Pleads,” is a heavy-duty attention grabber with an inclination toward the dark side.
I’ll give you anything you want pretty girl
You could rule over the underworld
— “Hades Pleads”
Millsap’s naturally gravely vocals next to hollow, high-pitched notes resembles where apple pie filling meets its crumbly outer crust. It’s a delicious contrast.
I plan to purchase an alternate version of this track on 7-inch red vinyl at Millsap’s website, because I simply can’t help myself.
The track features steady panting and a reference to Greek mythology’s Cerberus, the multi-headed dog guarding the gates of Hades. I wasn’t sure where the album would head after that, but I could only assume down.
Hell has a soft underbelly, because Millsap followed it up with two slow-paced tracks with lyrics grounded on Earth, “Pining” and “Morning Blues.” But, after the hard-hitting introductory track hinted at those angelic vocals, I craved it. Nay, I needed it.
Although the record dabbles around the apocalyptic theme of the “very last day” (emphasis on the very) alluded to in the title track, it has plenty of charm.
“Pining” has sweet lyrics; it’s one of my favorites, and I adore the bluesy vocals in the cover of Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move.” Frankly, “Hands Up” is maybe the most fun take on an armed robbery and its following repentance.
“Heaven Sent” felt like a Johnny Cash song, and it landed Millsap on NPR’s “Songs We Love.” It tells the story of a gay son addressing his preacher father.
I knew an Oklahoma family with those circumstances, and although the father and son’s relationship was as healthy as they come; it only heightens the importance of this conversation about where sexuality falls in relation to religion.
Millsap’s sophomore album feels like going to church with a chip on your shoulder, then coming out a different person on the other side.
As per usual, I’ve arrived to the party fashionably late. Despite the peckish persistence of my boyfriend and popularity among the Oklahoma music crowd, I’ve mostly put off listening to Millsap’s music.
I’ve been foolish. Next time the cosmic forces lay at my hands the makings of a legendary musician, I swear I’ll listen. You have my word.
I scooped up Millsap’s record recently at Guestroom Records in Oklahoma City along with a slew of others such as Jabee’s “Black Future,” everything John Moreland has on vinyl and Broncho’s “Double Vanity,” because I didn’t already have it. The cashier sensed a theme.
I wanted this column to be Oklahoma through and through, so the photos were taken at my parents’ Oklahoma home, and The T-shirt and skirt were purchased from The Rage clothing store in Ardmore. Side note: This T-shirt might have to be pried off my back before I take it off willingly for laundry day; I’m in love.
I might live in Florida now, but I’ll always be an Oklahoma girl.
Hat - H&M
Jacket - Target
T-shirt, skirt - The Rage
Belt - Lulus.com
Hey, I'm Savannah. I collect records, and they collect dust. Like my preferred media form, I strive to not become obsolete. I created Off the Record as a way to turn my mind inside out, into something visual and tangible. One is the loneliest number, so I asked my friends to join.