Most Charlie Parr records are full of sinner's songs told through a preacher reading from Lamentations over the moan of a resonator guitar. Hollandale is a different breed, most notably because the Minnesotan's dusty blues/folk rasp is missing. It's a ballsy omission, but it works. On this five-song EP Parr transcends conventional storytelling and song structure with mostly improvised, instrumental tunes, riding his 12-string all the way to hill-country heaven.
In some ways, removing Parr's deliberate narrative from the equation opens up this record to even greater dramatic landscapes. The songs ebb and flow and swirl like the sea, and four stretch past the eight-minute mark, finding unlikely similarities with post-rock outfits like Sigur Ros. The two-parts of "I Dreamed I Saw Paul Bunyan Last Night" are highlights, equally spooky and seraphic. Collaborator Alan Sparhawk lends some minimalist electric guitar to the tracks but mostly it's just Parr, his guitar and a slide, wordlessly communicating with sprawling beauty and emotional depth. This might not be the ideal starting point for Parr beginners, but it's a mesmerizing journey nonetheless.
Charlie Parr plays the Top Hat with Betse Ellis of The Wilders Fri., April 4, at 10 PM. $12/$10 advance at Rockin Rudy's and tophatlounge.com.