“A soul is a soul is a soul is a soul.” So howls Charlie Parr in the title track of his newly announced album for Red House Records, which will arrive Sept. 8, two and a half years after his well-received debut for the St. Paul folk label, “Stumpjumper.” That’s a long time coming in Parrville.
Both the new record and tune (posted below) are titled “Dog.” Talking about the song in a press release for the album, the beloved Duluth acoustic picker explained that's a tribute to his four-legged best-bud Ruby and the lessons she has taught him: “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."
While that sounds light-hearted enough, the tune is part of a larger theme of “issues of mental health and existential examinations of life” tackled on the album, according to the release. Sonically, the record sounds like it’s about halfway between Parr’s utterly raw earlier albums and the tastefully played Americana/band sound that Parr worked up with producer Phil Cook on “Stumpjumper.” Parr’s band for this record includes longtime washboard/percussion player Mikkel Beckman, plus Jeff Mitchell from Milwaukee, bassist Liz Draper (Okee Dokee Brothers, Black Blondie) and harmonica player Dave Hundreiser.
Of course, Parr isn’t waiting for the record to come out to get out there and play shows. He’ll be on tour for much of the summer. His next Twin Cities gig on the books isn’t until Aug. 9 at the Mill City Museum’s great Ruins Courtyard.