Lightnin’ Records – 2017
10 tracks; 44 minutes
Boston MA based guitarist Peter Parcek made a good impression with his 2010 album The Mathematics Of Love which received a nod at the Blues Blast Awards with a nomination in the Debut Release category. Seven years on Peter has produced another solid album, albeit with generally depressing themes. Peter’s strong guitar playing is supported by drummer and producer Marco Giovino and a large cast of additional musicians assembled in Nashville for the sessions: Luther Dickinson adds guitar to four tracks, Spooner Oldham is on keys, Mickey Raphael on harp and no fewer than four bassists are involved – Mark Hickox, Joe Klompus, Dominic John Davis and Dennis Crouch. Russ Pahl is on pedal steel and jew’s harp, Andy Santospago lap steel and John Jackson electric mandolin. Deanie Richardson and Jeremy Van Cleave play violin and the McCrary Sisters add backing vocals. Peter wrote six of the tunes here and there are four covers.
As noted in the review of The Mathematics Of Love Peter spent time in London and became a fan of early Fleetwood Mac and Peter Green whose “World Keep On Turning” opens the album in a heavy version with Hendrix influences as Peter and Luther duel on guitars. Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” (aka “One Kind Favour”) is a familiar song, even BB King used it as the title track of his final studio album; Peter’s extended slow version accentuates the funereal lyrics with moody guitar work from both Peter and Luther. “Ashes To Ashes” shuffles along with some interesting drum work, slide working against the main riff underneath another downbeat lyric about being “about to drop”, some real Mississippi blues going on here! “Every Drop Of Rain” is slower-paced with some memorable playing as the title reminds Peter of a lost love, his guitar expressing his angst perfectly. In similar territory lyrically “Things Fall Apart” is much more uptempo, probably the most accessible song here with bright, ringing guitar.
The two other covers are both interesting takes on the songs: for the title of the album Peter’s slowed-down interpretation of a Don Nix song best known from Albert King’s version emphasises the lyrics with torrid guitar/slide; “Aunt Caroline Dyer Blues” comes from The Memphis Jug Band and features the violins, lap steel and jew’s harp as Peter talks of “going to Newport News catch a battleship across the sea ‘cos bad luck and hard work don’t appeal to me”, apparently the result of visiting the eponymous fortune teller!
Possibly to break up the generally ‘down’ nature of the lyrics and to act as a showcase for his fine guitar skills, Peter does three lively instrumentals across the album: “Pat Hare” is named after Muddy Waters’ sideman who influenced many guitarists and is a fine upbeat tune with Mickey Raphael’s harp featured alongside Peter’s guitar; “Shiver” is a slinky instrumental with staccato guitar and “Mississippi Suitcase” is a boogie worthy of John Lee Hooker with a hint of rock and roll coming in at the end, the title possibly coming from what is being used as drums which sounds like it could well be a suitcase!
There is no denying Peter’s ability as a writer and guitarist and the blend of interesting cover versions with his originals makes for a good album. Not a cheerful listen but lots of fine playing to appreciate.