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Rob Roy Parnell - Let’s Start Something
Blue Rocket Records

12 songs; 42:29 minutes; Splendid

Style: Southern Blues-Rock / Texas Roadhouse

Usually artists do not like to have their music put into any category. They like to think their songs and styling are unique enough to defy all labels. So, Rob Roy Parnell must be having a good chuckle at my expense as I try to describe his fine new album of very enjoyable music. It is we reviewers who feel the need to label and categorize as a service to our readers.

Attempting to label his second CD, I concocted the phrase “Southern Blues-Rock.” While the music is not “Blues” enough to satisfy purists, it is neither Country enough nor Rock enough for those purists either. It is thankfully blues based, and Rob Roy plays harmonica that clearly leans on 12-bar influences.

Similarities to Delbert McClinton can be heard, in both likeable vocals and instrumentation. Kevin McKendree plays honky tonk piano on most tracks lending both lead and rhythm support to mainly James Pennebaker on lead guitar. Delbert’s saxophone player, Don Wise, checks in on a couple of numbers. Recorded at Omni Studios in Nashville TN, all the songs reflect a full sound that comes from professional production verses the many home-grown-studio-productions.

The first track, “I Know Better” immediately illustrates that full production with Wise on saxophone and Scott Ducaj on trumpet. James Pennebaker provides both rhythm guitar throughout and lead in the first mid-song solo. Beside him is McKendree’s two fisted piano pounding, Lynn Williams on drums, and Steve Mackey on bass. Rob Roy takes a tasty harmonica solo, and all except the horns join in on background vocals supporting Parnell’s lyric about heartbreak causing him to get smarter faster.

Pennebaker’s lead guitar drives the second track, “Sorry As They Come,” over his double tracked rhythm guitar for a nice effect and sound. McKendree scoots over to B3 organ so that Lewis Stephens can take over on piano.

Sweet screaming Southern-style slide guitar opens the third track causing a quick look to the liner notes. Sure enough, it is Rob Roy’s brother, famed slider Lee Roy Parnell. “Long Distance Love” also keeps Pennebaker’s guitars for the road-house rocking drive accented with piano flourishes.

In a Cracker Barrel gift shop, I once saw a humorous plaque that read, “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!” Rob Roy must have seen the same sign, because he and Will Indian wrote lyrics to fill in the details for their song, “If Mama Ain’t Happy.” Jonell Mosser adds appropriate female background vocals to the bouncy, upbeat number. “Better get it right, and make it snappy!”

Rob Roy Parnell has already “started something” – it appears to be a successful recording career. Never mind the labels, just categorize it as a fun set.

Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL

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