It is not quite as prevalent as when I was first going to gigs, but back then, if a band was opening for one of your favourites, you knew they’d be good.
I think back to the first bands I saw, Skid Row had the LA Guns, Bon Jovi had Rockhead and so on.
In 2023 it probably comes down to money, like everything else, but nonetheless, later in the year, Parker McCollum goes out with Eric Church and Morgan Wallen. Those two names alone perhaps should tell you what you’re getting on “Never Enough” and if it doesn’t, a listen to the record tells you: Parker McCollum is country’s next megastar.
Of course, that’s been obvious since the start. His major label full-length “Gold Chain Cowboy” was a blinged up take on the Country institutions, and it worked. He’s been nominated for some awards, he won some more, he’s been on Jimmy Kimmel, played The Grand Ole Opry, Austin City Limits, counts his ticket sales in the tens of thousands, and his streams in the millions.
Credit to him though, he’s got this 15 song collection to underline his class.
The gold chain has gone this time around and in it’s place comes a blue collar rocker. Crikey, look at the cover. I can’t be the only one who saw it and thought “Springsteen” surely?
That’s reflected in the opening song. “Hurricane” has a chord in it’s intro that has a bit of a “theme from Friends” going on, but it explodes into an arena anthem. Listen to the closing solo and tell me it’s not meant to be a euphoric set opener in some enormo-dome. Likewise (although it’s more “country-fied”) “Best I Never Had” could be John Mellencamp.
PM is slightly different from most of his peers in that he co-writes nearly all his songs. The one he doesn’t, “Things I Never Told You” will do well on Mother’s Day, but although he’s involved in all the others, there’s a team that’s got some of the biggest writers in the US.
That’s fine, because he still hasn’t done one of the generic “beers with the buddies” ones. Instead there’s a darkness on the edge of his town. “Burn It Down” is your love gone bad one, but its got a twist, “Stoned” rather underlines the fact he hadn’t taken the break up well, and the poptastic “Handle On You” has him drinking her away. The fact that there’s probably not even a real girl doesn’t even matter. He’s giving people what they want.
“Lessons From An Old Man” comes in with a wonderful reflective piece, and it must be said that McCollum has a superb voice.
The themes here are all empathetic. “Tough People Do” is stoicism writ large, “Speed” chugs along like its a lost tune from “Born In The USA” and the glorious ballad “Tails I Lose” has this at its heart: “the odds are a million to one, so I still got a chance”. There are blokes the world over who are ready to declare him our leader and are scrolling through their phones for “the one”. That’s the genius here. They’ve made it so universal.
“I Ain’t Going Nowhere” doubles down on the sticking with it theme, the acoustics come out for “Too Tight This Time”, the muscular stuff comes back for “Don’t Blame Me” and “Have Your Heart Again” is worthy of Elton John.
And as the last one, the jaunty “Wheel” wraps it up with the thought that he belongs on the road, you can only reflect that “Never Enough” has ticked all its boxes.
Expertly played, well-written, brilliantly sung, and impossible to dislike. If we may revisit one of the bands I mentioned at the start, this is Parker McCollum’s “Slippery When Wet” moment. It’s got a Gold Disc written all over it – just like McCollum is a future Hall Of Famer.
REVIEW: PARKER MCCOLLUM – NEVER ENOUGH (2023)