Years of writing songs and hitting the road together culminates on July 20 with the release of Clay Parker and Jodi James’ debut full-length album The Lonesomest Sound That Can Sound. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based singer-songwriters looked to Woody Guthrie for more than an album title–it comes from “When the Curfew Blows”–for their 10-song collection of dark, acoustic-driven Americana.
For a prime example of how the band uses vivid language to tell complex stories about real-life emotion, check out advance single “Down to the Garden.” Quaint country-rock instrumentation and vocal melodies propel a contemporary equivalent of classic tales from the garden–from Jesus in Gethsemane to Ricky Nelson’s party with the Beatles and Bob Dylan. It’s an example of two capable solo acts combining forces to discover new ways to celebrate regional roots sounds while creating something markedly modern.
Per a statement from the band: “‘Down To The Garden’ is a play on a re-hearing of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock.’ But we took images of the garden found in common folklore (the Genesis story and the ballad of Rose Connelly), where we see both beauty and violence mingling. The last verse is a commentary of sorts on modern industrialization and the green movement. On a personal level, we live on a portion of the Mississippi River affectionately dubbed ‘cancer alley’ where several chemical plants line both coasts. And it’s difficult to rise above a ‘this-is-not-how-it-should-be-but-that’s-the-way-it-is’ mentality. Where do you go from there?”
The song comes from an album that builds on the musical quality of “Come Back,” “What It Knows,” “Meditation Blues” and other tracks off the duo’s self-titled debut EP from 2015. When their album arrives, check out the similar ’70s folk vibes of “Yazoo City” and Appalachian roots ballad “Remember It All.” The latter makes Parker and James sound like a Cajun equivalent of David Rawlings and Gillian Welch.
In addition to the new album, Parker and James should get more attention later this summer. They snagged a musical role in Ethan Hawke’s forthcoming Blaze Foley biopic, Blaze.