Joyann Parker – Roots
Joyann Parker – Roots
Format: CD – Vinyl LP – Digital
Label: Hopeless Romantic Records
Release date: September 8, 2023
Blues, Soul, Americana Vocalist Joyann Parker Announces New Album ‘Roots’
The longtime Minneapolis resident who recently moved back to her native Wisconsin, Parker fills the stylistically wide Roots with 13 original songs. Creative and versatile, she deftly sidesteps trends and formula. “I have all these things in me, but pretty much everything I write is based in the American roots music I love.”
Parker instructed her producer, Minneapolis-based studio owner and songwriter Kevin Bowe (Bruce Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, Etta James, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd…) to put his stamp on Roots, just as he did with its predecessor, ‘Out Of The Dark.’
Roots opens tough with the album’s title track, a roots rock song in which Parker makes her intentions clear. “I put my roots down, down in the ground,” she sings. “Dig ’em deep and make ’em sound.” Band member Mark Lamoine joins her in a duet for another of the album’s rockers, “Faintly Optimistic,” a song reminiscent of the music of their fellow Midwestern musician, Detroit’s Bob Seger.
“Going Under,” a ballad Parker composed at the keyboard, shows the influence of Ann Wilson, the powerhouse vocalist in the classic rock band Heart. Parker grew up loving Wilson’s singing and the classic rock she recorded with Heart.
The sophisticated progressions in “Going Under,” a plaintive ballad, stretched Parker’s songcraft. She was also a little apprehensive about releasing a song with such serious lyrics. “It’s a departure for me,” Parker said. “I wrote it about feeling like you’re underwater and can’t get out. I like to be a positive person, but I think there’s value in people being seen if they’re in a situation like that. And I don’t stay ‘stay down.’ That’s the important part.”
“Stay Home Mama,” composed in the jump-blues style of Jimmy Witherspoon, is already a favorite with Parker’s audiences. Its humorous lyrics resonate with parents everywhere.
The country-style “Sconnie Girl” takes Parker home to Wisconsin. “Sconnie,” she explained, is an alternative to the more widely known “cheesehead.” In Wisconsin, residents affectionately call their fellow Wisconsinites “sconnies.” “It’s kind of a country song,” Parker said. “But we wanted it to be like Bobbie Gentry, with a little bit of soul. “Mississippi country instead of bro’ country.”
Throwing her listeners a curve, Roots also features the reggae-styled “Juxtaposition.” “I’m a bottle full of so many different things that I’ve loved over the years,” Parker said of her eclecticism. “I love that my band can play all of it.”
Roots features Parker’s band: Parker, vocals, keyboard, , rhythm guitar lead guitar on “Roots” and “Forsaken”; Mark Lamoine, guitar and background vocals; Tim Wick, piano and organ; Bill Golden, drums; saxophonist Scott Graves; and bassist Chris Bates, the band’s newest member. “Chris is the missing puzzle piece for us,” Parker said. “He’s pushed us to another level. It’s so great to have a band of people who play together all the time. I’m blessed with these guys.”
Parker and her band also perform Patsy Cline tribute shows. Launched in 2018, the Cline tribute won top prize at the Midwest Country Music Awards. Parker also performs Classic Ladies of Country, a revue featuring classics by female singers from the 1950s to the ’70s.
A classically trained pianist with a music degree from the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, Parker belatedly discovered blues and soul in 2014. After she performed Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” at a talent contest, a blues band invited her to join. She soon formed Joyann Parker and Sweet Tea, which won the Minnesota Blues Society’s band competition in 2015 and represented the state at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. The Memphis trip and a visit to the Stax Museum there inspired Parker to compose the songs on her album debut, Hard to Love.
Parker is currently writing songs for a country-gospel album. But no matter what kind of music she’s singing, authenticity is the key.
02. Faintly Optimistic
03. Wash It Away
04. Closing Someone Else’s Blinds
05. What’s Good For You
07. Old Flame
08. Ain’t Got Time To Cry
10. Miss Evangeline
11. Going Under
12. Stay Home Mama