Reviewed December 2008
Let's Start Something
By Rob Roy Parnell
Blue Rocket: 2008
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Rob Roy Parnell is a blues-rock singer/harp player with some family musical pedigree his older brother Lee Roy Parnell has been an established country and blues slide guitarist for two decades. Rob previously released a disc of Texas-style blues in 1999, "Jacksboro Highway," and his new offering, "Let's Start Something," is a mixed bag.
The music on this 12-track disc consists of 10 originals, and while these are well-executed by Parnell and a core group of musicians with a number of noteworthy guest guitarists, they are standard, familiar Texas roadhouse blues and boogie tunes. The connect-the-dots song structure, done to death blues lyrics, and lack of standout cuts does not mean there isn’t some tasty music here, though especially if you like guitar and harp.
"Long Distance Love" provides brother Lee Roy with a chance to lay down some slide licks reminiscent of Dwayne Allman. "If I Were You" follows with a smoldering guitar solo by Dave Milsap (of Delbert McClinton's band, and who has a disc of his own this tune might make you want to buy). "Mama Ain't Happy" includes the best guitar work by James Pennebaker, another ace who has worked with Lee Roy on a number of albums and is in fine form on eight of the cuts here. This tune, as well as "Texas Love Machine" and Roy Brown's album-closing "Lollipop Mama" feature the best harp work by Roy Roy. He has the chops to stay in the frame with these slick axe men, and for stretches has some of the loud, unadorned timbre that Kim Wilson brings to the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Meanwhile, his vocals try hard, with little power, and get lost in the shuffle on most cuts. As a result, most of the music becomes a series of well-played vehicles for solos that add nothing new or memorable to a genre that has seen many great acts with similar lineups for decades.
Rob Roy Parnell's next move might be to consider adding a stronger vocalist or include more covers of proven standards.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.