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Lee Roy Parnell

Back to the Well – 2006 (Universal South)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by Lee Roy Parnell

The title of Lee Roy Parnell's latest is appropriate since he's back performing what launched him from the Austin club circuit in the late 1980s and into Nashville's bright lights on then-upstart Arista Nashville. But in order to come back to something, first you have to leave it.

Parnell never completely departed from his bread and butter - country with a bluesy edge and his trademark slide guitar - since falling off the charts in the late 1990s. What Parnell lost was his dedication to the song. The result was a rehash of everything we'd heard before.

Now reunited with ex-Arista exec Tim DuBois at Universal South, Parnell and co-producer John Kunz have re-ignited his music with a sense of urgency, polishing each tune without glossing over the grit and soul that made Parnell's best work so enjoyable. Sure, the themes and instrumentation in the 12 cuts - all written or co-written by Parnell - are familiar ground. There's standard rowdy roadhouse fare on "You Can't Lose Them All," while sweetness drips from "Daddies and Daughters."

But it's fun again. And it shows that Parnell's groove and soul didn't entirely evaporate, after all.