Lucius Parr – Blues and Me: Going to Texas
12 songs – 48 minutes
Phoenix, Ariz.-based vocalist Lucius Parr is an old-school bluesman with strong Texas roots, which comes through loud and clear on this pleasant mix of soul-drenched music that’s chockful of stinging, single-note guitar runs and themes that deal with differing angles of romance.
A Vietnam War vet who picked cotton as a child while growing up in the small town of Yoakum in the Lone Star State, Parr comes from a poor, but musical family. He grew up listening to the recordings of Albert Collins — one of his cousins, B.B. King and others, and built his own cigar-box guitar at age ten. He was an all-state trombonist in high school who didn’t receive his first real six-string until graduating from high school with honors.
Before relocating to Arizona, played guitar in bands while attending Quinn College in Waco on a music scholarship. He was still in his teens when he backed his first big star, Etta James. Initially the point man in an Infantry unit at the front in Vietnam, after auditioning on bass and trombone, he eventually became a member of an Army band that entertained troops across Southeast Asia.
Parr’s served in a support position for vocalists Bettye Swan and Mary Wells and spent 20 years as a member of the Charlie Daniels Band in addition to launching a career as a front man with releases under his own name going back to the early 2000s. The liner notes for this album are limited, and it appears that Lucius handles almost all of the instrumentation throughout aided only by Miss Cubase, aka Teira Doom, who adds keys on the opening cut, and James Tobin, who delivers sax lines on the closer.
The all-original, 12-tune set opens with “Going to Texas” — but don’t be mistaken, it’s not a tribute to his former home. It was warning to his woman that he’s getting ready to leave without her to hook up with his other gal. Like all many of the Lone Star State guitar slingers who’ve preceded him, Parr’s guitar licks are crisp, clean and come with a sting – something that becomes immediately apparent from the opening notes of “Hot Outside,” a slow-blues pleaser in which he refuses an invite to return from his lady after she’s already kicked him out.
The sound takes a right-hand turn into Southern soul, but the theme continues with the medium-fast shuffle, “I’m Through with You,” and then slows dramatically for the unhurried true blues ballad, “Meet Me Halfway,” which gives Lucius more space to display his chops. The tempo heats again for the driving shuffle, “It’s Friday Night,” which finds the singer dealing with a woman who’s never available, but he still insists that they should party everything’s all right.
Soul-blues returns for “Look Me in the Eyes,” which demands the lady pay attention when Parr’s talking, before the pace quickens slightly for “This I Know,” which announces he knows she’s cheating. The azure ballad, “Play My Blues,” dips into Southern soul once more as it suggests spinning the singer’s tunes any time someone starts talking down to his lady love.
“Lock My Doors” comes across with a Windy City feel from its step-down guitar run opener as Lucius tells his ex to stop knocking on his door before the soul-blues, “You Were Drunk,” complains that the woman of his desire was so tipsy, she didn’t know who he was the next day after giving him her phone number. The jazzy “Welcome into My House” follows before the funkified title cut, “Play My Guitar,” finds Lucius housebound because of COVID-19 instead of clubbing with his lady and making music.
Blues and Me is as comfortable as an old pair of shoes if, like me, you have a strong love for Southern soul or soul blues. It’s Available through Apple Music, Amazon and Spotify.