by Julian Spivey
Outstanding Americana singer-songwriter Parker Millsap made his “Austin City Limits” debut on Saturday, Jan. 28 on the long-running PBS music program. Millsap was included on an episode with indie rock group Band of Horses.
Millsap’s brand of Americana features a mixture of country, gospel and folk with some of the best lyrics in the genre and passionate vocals that really resonate with his fans. Millsap credits growing up in a Pentecostal Church and listening to his parents’ blues record collection with influencing his one-of-a-kind sound.
His third studio album The Very Last Day was my second favorite release last year after Sturgill Simpson’s excellent A Sailor’s Guide to Earth and his ‘ACL’ debut featured about half of the album’s tracks.
Millsap began his set with the excellent title track from his recent record, which has him foreseeing his response to the end of days. This led brilliantly into another raucous performance in “Hands Up,” about a down on his luck vet from a war in the Middle East holding up a gas station clerk just so he can afford to feed his babies at home.
Millsap slowed things down a bit for his third performance on “Austin City Limits” with “Pining,” a beautiful vocal about absolutely needing to be with someone.
The highlight of Millsap’s ‘ACL’ debut was his performance of “Heaven Sent,” which absolutely floored me the first time I heard it performed at last year’s Americana Honors & Awards, where Millsap was nominated for Album of the Year. The song features Millsap in the shoes of a gay son of a preacher who struggles with his dad not accepting him, even though he always said Jesus would love him through the flame. “Heaven Sent” topped this website’s list of the 100 best country/Americana songs of 2016.
Another highlight of Millsap’s performance on the PBS program was the incredibly fiddle playing of band member Daniel Foulks on virtually every single song.
Millsap kept the gospel flavor going after “Heaven Sent” with the song that first put him on the Americana map in 2014 “Truckstop Gospel,” the only performance during his set that wasn’t off The Very Last Day. It’s a raucous tune about a truck driver spreading the word of the Gospel on the road.
Millsap finished his terrific set up with a couple more songs from The Very Last Day in the blues flavored gospel of “You Gotta Move” and the incredibly infectious “Hades Pleads,” about the Greek God of the underworld pleading for love. “Hades Pleads” is the perfect song for Millsap’s fiery brand of singing.
If you’ve never heard of Parker Millsap I can’t stress enough how much you’re missing out. I’d start with catching his performance on “Austin City Limits” and then checking out the entirety of The Very Last Day.