While Parker and The Pesos found regional success in Texas on the strength of their remarkable 2004 self-released debut, Blow The Soot Out, the Denton, TX-based quintet are poised to break out nationally with The Lonesome Dirge – a breathtaking, often heart-stopping, album brimming with Americana anthems, harrowing Southern Gothic balladry and shit-kicking roadhouse rockers that channels the likes of Steve Earle, Old 97s and Son Volt.
The album immediately stampedes out of gate with the unbridled dynamics of the driving opener ”Firefight,” before shooting straight into the passionate number “10 lb Test,” where, amid indelible hooks and stinging guitar, Parker’s warm, whiskey-soaked voice sweetly cracks with a touch of wild honey. “Brother” is a moving ballad that culminates with not only proud, pounding choruses but also showcases the volatile musical dexterity of this explosive outfit, while songs such as “Wild Man From Borneo,” “Tell Me What It Is” and “I’m Never Getting Married” are performed with both fiery passion and clenched-fisted conviction. The band also manages to breathe further life into a spirited reworking of Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” while the album’s sparse, haunting closing number “11 Hours,” coincidentally, hearkens back to the ghostly acoustic landscape of Bruce’s Nebraska album.
What these eleven-tracks – alternately capable of touching the heart and loosening the floorboards - prove more than anything else, though, is that Rodney Parker is one of those rare singer/songwriters to be reckoned with. While the word ‘masterpiece’ may seem a bit lofty to attach so readily to any record this early in an artist’s career, The Lonesome Dirge is as worthy a contender as you’re likely to find today.