“If you give Parker Millsap and Michael Rose’s debut album a listen — and I highly recommend you give it more than one — you might just get the wrong idea.
After all, they sure don’t sound like a couple of baby-faced recent Purcell High School graduates.
With “Palisade,” the red dirt duo proves the adage that age is nothing but a number. The Oklahomans do it all on this acoustic album: Millsap wrote the 11 songs, plays guitar and harmonica and sings every track in a deep, gravelly and preternaturally knowing voice that you won’t soon forget. On bass, Rose not only gives each song a sturdy structure but also demonstrates an uncanny knack for knowing just when to nudge his rhythms toward the forefront. The musical partners have been playing together for about four years — you know, since they were high schoolers — and they’ve developed a solid chemistry.
The album opens with the bluesy title track that emphasizes the duo’s remarkable musical maturity, particularly Millsap’s gritty vocals reminiscent of Tom Waits, then takes a more folksy tone with the pretty ballad “Seed.” The duo shows off their impressive skills with the lively yet old-fashioned instrumental “Tuesday Night Rag,” which has a timeless sound that could fool you into believing it’s been passed down from one picker to another since the early 20th century.
In the grand red dirt tradition, the pair especially excels at vivid story songs like the mournful lover’s plea “Central Pacific,” the matter-of-fact musing on mortality “I Hope I Die” and the sad but cleverly worded tale of a trio of hard-luck cases “Jackson’s in a Hole.”
-Brandy McDonnel” May 31, 2012