Love Without Mercy

Lee Roy Parnell: Love Without Mercy (Arista) Country blues-rocker Lee Roy Parnell isn’t as loose and greasy as fellow Texan Delbert McClinton, but they hang around the same dingy massage parlors of romantic desire and disillusionment. As they duet on ”Road Scholar,” one of the highlights of Parnell’s second album, they both hold a ”Master’s in rhythm, and a Minor in soul, and a Ph.D. in the blues.” Parnell obviously didn’t cut class in other subjects, either, such as straight-ahead boogie and gospel-soul, and his ripsaw vocals hang heavy with experience, if not especially distinctive color. Mainstream this isn’t—Parnell’s slide guitar cuts like a laser through his sparsely dressed songs of tortured memory and regret. But anyone bored with Nashville formula will likely find this dose of roots reality as refreshing as a chicken-leg dinner and a cold brew. B

Love Without Mercy
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