Parker Millsap’s last record was Biblical. On 2016’s The Very Last Day, Millsap—just 23 years old at the time—wrote songs about Lucifer, the apocalypse, preachers, fire, and forgiveness. It was an intense, ambitious set of songs, and it only worked because of Millsap’s big hurricane of a voice. Here was someone with the kind of unhinged bellow that could sell a song about the devil trying to entice a pretty girl to climb into the front seat of his car. Here was a singer who could sell the desperation of a story where a preacher’s son had to come clean to his dad that he’d fallen in love with a boy. As a piece of writing and a display of vocal work, The Very Last Day was easily one of the most impressive albums of 2016.
On the follow-up, called Other Arrangements, Millsap drives pointedly in the opposite direction. This record sheds the stakes, ambition, and Biblical themes of its predecessor for a straighter, simpler proposition: pop music, circa 1963. The average song length is less than three minutes, and the best tune on the record—the propulsive, infectious “Gotta Get to You,” clocks in at 2:03. Instead of shooting for larger than life, Millsap is trying to serve up small, perfectly honed nuggets of throwback rock ‘n’ roll glory.