Granted, the billing sounds more like a consulting firm than a bluegrass band, but in truth, Jeff Parker & Company have been entertaining audiences with their down home sounds for more than three decades. A native of central Kentucky, Parker developed his chops playing mandolin in the company of such esteemed ensembles as Dailey & Vincent and Lonesome River Band before starting his own outfit and releasing a number of albums under their own aegis.
The band’s career recently got a bigger boost when they were selected as official showcase artists for this year’s IBC competition. Not surprisingly then, their latest LP, Time Has Made a Change, offers all the evidence needed as to why they’re so respected and revered. Nuance and nostalgia are both prominent in their presentation, traits which are immediately apparent on opening track Southern Wind, a song that shares universal thoughts about home, hearth, and a desire to revisit a time when things were simpler and sedate. Those sentiments are also expressed in reverent ways as well, particularly when it comes to the Gospel-tinged offerings titled He Guides My Life and While Endless Ages Roll, two songs that share a profound sense of deep devotion.
That said, Time Has Made a Change is flush with secular songs as well, although the sentiment resonates with the same well expressive emotion. Love and longing coax tender tones from You Can’t Break My Heart and A Memory of You. Likewise, the rollicking Carolina Line and reverent Time Has Made a Change in Me urge a return to the places where comfort and clarity offer the eternal allure. It’s notable that though the band doesn’t write their own material, they have an express ability to pick songs that represent their convictions decidedly and distinctly.
Parker has been for some years one of the most engaging and entertaining artists in bluegrass, and he has assembled a group of talented musician s for his band. Joey Cox is on banjo, with Colin Ray on guitar, David Chrisley on bass, and Max Silverstein on fiddle. With Jeff’s powerful vocals leading the way, with able assistance from Colin singing tenor, this album is a sure winner.
Ultimately, Time Has Made a Change belies any inference implied in its title. The music is in fact timeless, an expression of solace and spirituality flush with eternal optimism. Parker & Company deserve thanks for providing a truly wistful respite.