Tell The Truth
Vanguard Records, 2001
REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/11/2001
Lee Roy Parnell is fast becoming a legend in Texas music. He started his career singing with his "uncle" Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys and has played with such luminaries as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Ely, Kinky Friedman, and Delbert McClinton. He's a three-time CMA nominee, a two-time Grammy nominee, and a past winner of the Orville H. Gibson Award for Country Male Guitarist of the year. He's played with everyone from Mary Chapin Carpenter to Bob Seger. This guy has the resume to be considered one of the luminaries of instrumental country music.
So maybe the first question is why a Texas blues album? Because that's what Tell The Truth is; a tasty, tasty collection of tunes straight out of a Lone Star State roadhouse. Seems Parnell had an urge to get back to his roots, to play the music he first played in Austin in the mid-seventies where he backed up people like Vaughan, McClinton, and Ely.
Tell The Truth is a sort of homecoming for Parnell, and it's plain to see that he's awful comfortable there. Truth was even recorded with several of Parnell's closest and longest friends, including Gary Nicholson and Dan Penn, and the tracks were laid down at Muscle Shoals, the same studio Parnell began his professional recording career in 26 years earlier.
A standard aphorism gets shattered on Tell The Truth: you can go home again. Every track on this album gleams with skill, style, and a certain comfortable feeling, like a broken-in pair of boots. Artists are at their best when they're having fun, and Parnell sure seems to be.
Some tracks of note: "Right Where It Hurts", the coming of age tune "Crossin' Over", "South By Southwest" with Delbert McClinton, and the only cover on the CD, Gretchen Peters's "Love's Been Rough On Me". The three gospel tinged tracks in the middle of the CD, "I Declare" (with Keb' Mo'), "Brand New Feeling" (with the Mississippi Mass Choir of Jackson), and "Guardian Angel," are also excellent. The production on the CD is smooth and even, presenting the music in an accessible and listenable light. In short, this is just a good, good CD.
Lee Roy Parnell proves Thomas Wolfe wrong on Tell The Truth; not only can you go home again, but you can record quite the CD while you're doing it. This comes heartily recommended.