Album Review: Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward "Live In The Living Room"

Changing musical directions can sometimes lead to a burst of creative energy. This holds true for Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward in their new album - the stripped down "Live In The Living Room." Parker's fame comes largely from his stellar reputation in Texas country/Red Dirt music, but this acoustic set proves that the band could draw just as many fans from Americana and roots music.
Creating an atmospheric live album that does justice to a songwriter's music and a band's long hours of practice is no easy feat, but Rodney Parker makes it look easy on the first cut "Firelight." Likewise, the easy-going "Highway Blues" is perfectly performed. So fire up the subwoofer, close your eyes and pretend that you're in the living room with Parker, 50 Peso Reward and about two dozen friends in Corinth, Texas where the album was recorded.

The project really comes into its own with the track "Guitars," which slowly builds to a memorable melody. The biggest surprise on the album is "Ghost" which offers elements reminiscent of both Chris Knight and Hayes Carll. This Americana cut is musical perfection and deserves airplay on Americana radio and stations like The Coffee House on Sirius XM. "Where The Bright Lights Glow Me" has much of the same charm.

Traditional country mixed with bluegrass is showcased on the self-defense track "Bring Me My Gun." The wailing "The Ship" and "Atlantic City" bring a cool singer-songwriter vibe to the album. Anytime you have a house party with music like the one in Corinth, Texas, you have to have some fun. "I'm Never Getting Married" will lead to much party talk, and the chorus is highly memorable. Indeed, this cut might also score some serious radio airplay.

The album ends with the mysterious "Skin And Bones" and "10lb. Test." The song "Skin And Bones" has an intriguing REM meets Stoney LaRue sound, and "10lb. Test" was the perfect ending for the album with its laid back country sensibility.

"Live In The Living Room" will bring a variety of emotions to listeners during the 13 tracks that clock in at more than 53 minutes. There will be smiles, toe-tapping and maybe even some tears on songs like "The Apology" or "The Ship." However, at the end of the set, you will probably react like the audience on the album did after the final track - which is thoughtful appreciation for Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward who have managed to borrow the best elements of American music, tie them up in a bow and deliver them right to your living room.