by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com
Most folks live their lives within their own personal comfort zones, rarely even peeking out to see what life’s like on the outside. But that’s most folks. And Charlie Parr isn’t most folks. Rather, Parr not only bears witness to life outside his comfort zone, but he documents his findings in his songs. On his new album, ‘Dog,’ those stories wander through homelessness and mental health, existential examinations and emotional contemplations with many stops between and beyond.
‘Dog’ levels the playing field, within and without, as Parr tackles his subjects head on, including his own scrimmages with depression. In the quietude of “Sometimes I’m Alright,” barely plucking a banjo, he mutters, “Sometimes I’m alright. Other times, it’s hard to tell, like finding light in the bottom of the darkest well.” The stark setting and even starker topic gives way to a different sort of character sketch on the very next track, “Rich Food and Easy Living.” It’s a study in contrast, to be sure, which is how Parr seems to like it.
On other cuts, Parr works his resonator while recounting lessons learned from various elements and experiences, including his dog and the myriad faces he encounters in his travels. The album’s opener, “HoBo,” sums up well Parr’s worldview: “Every day I wake up is a new day. Every song I sing contains a new refrain. When I meet you again, you will have changed. I’ll remember your face, but maybe not your name.”