“I was going to do it completely solo,” Duluth, Minnesota’s Charlie Parr says about his 14th album titled Dog, due out on Red House Records September 8th. “I was going to go to this barn in Wisconsin, sit there and play my songs. And I was practicing them and I thought, this is devastating. These songs are hard to hear in this format. I would never be able to listen to them again. And then my friend Tom Herbers, he saw something was wrong. We talked, booked time at Creation Audio, and made a plan to flesh out the album with a backing band.”
The result was an album that Parr and the people who participated in its making consider as possibly his most personal yet. A true songwriting roots music troubadour, Charlie Parr is known as a master of the slide guitar, and for holding audiences in stunned silence as he sits on a chair by himself at center stage, spinning his tales.
“I had some really, really bad depression problems over the last couple years,” Charlie says. “I’ve been trying to get fit, trying not to drink so much, trying not to do the rock ‘n’ roll guy thing. And then I got depressed. Really depressed. And to me, depression feels like there’s me, and then there’s this kind of hazy fog of rancid jello all around me, that you can’t feel your way out of. And then there’s this really, really horrible third thing, this impulsive thing, that doesn’t feel like it’s me or my depression. It feels like it’s coming from outside somewhere. And it’s the thing that comes on you all of a sudden, and it’s the voice of suicide, it’s the voice of ‘quit.'”
But he didn’t, thank goodness, and solicited the help of folk artist Jeff Mitchell, percussionist Mikkel Beckman, harmonica player Dave Hundreiser, and bassist Liz Draper for the new project.The recording of Dog was said to be a very organic experience.
“I wrote all the lyrics on these giant pieces of paper, and I had highlighters, and I assigned them each a color. I was going to be super organized,” Charlie explains. “And then we started playing, and all of a sudden none of that even mattered. These stupid highlighters, the pieces of paper – I should have just trusted in the beginning that these friends would know how to take care of my songs.”
Ahead of the September release, Parr has revealed the title track (listen below).
“I have a dog, her name is Ruby but I call her Ruben, and we go for these long, crazy, chaotic walks,” Charlie says. “Because I decided a long time ago that I get along really well with this dog, and I was taking her for walks, and she wanted to go this way, and I wanted to go that way. And then I thought, why are we going to go this way and not that way? Maybe I should be the one getting walked. Maybe I’ll learn something. So I follow the dog.”
3. Salt Water
5. Sometime’s I’m Alright
6. Rich Food and Easy Living
7. I Ain’t Dead Yet
8. Boiling Down Silas
9. Another Dog
10. Peaceful Valley