We All Get Lucky Sometimes
When Lee Roy Parnell hit the commercial country scene in 1990 with his self-titled debut album, he was a refreshing combination of Southern blue-eyed soul — a gritty mix of country, blues, and Texas rock & roll that recalled his idol Delbert McClinton. Yet despite the favor of critics and fans, country radio refused to play him. Predictably, Parnell’s second album, Love Without Mercy, toed the line, trading horns for pedal steel and tempering his own greasy-spoon songwriting to a more mainstream sound. The compromise worked — Parnell scored a handful of hits, including ”I’m Holding My Own,” without sacrificing his soul.
If only he’d stuck to that formula. Because on his fourth album, We All Get Lucky Sometimes, Parnell now seems limited in every way. While ”When a Woman Loves a Man,” with harmony by Trisha Yearwood, is an affecting ballad, and ”Knock Yourself Out” is a pleasing Hank Williams-meets-Louis Jordan shuffle, the program shows little originality: Too many songs rely on the roots rock of Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry. Even his formerly laser-like slide guitar sounds cookie-cutter.
Parnell is one of Nashville’s fair-haired boys, someone to watch for at upcoming awards shows. But at what price? Too often, artists seem to get those awards only by playing it safe. B-