By Maxim Mower
Never Enough feels like a leap forward for McCollum, who clearly doesn’t shy away from opportunities to experiment and expand his sonic horizons.
2. 'Best I Never Had'
3. 'Things I Never Told You'
4. 'Burn It Down'
6. 'Handle On You'
7. 'Lessons From An Old Man'
8. 'Tough People Do'
10. 'Tails I Lose'
11. 'I Ain’t Going Nowhere'
12. 'Too Tight This Time'
13. 'Don’t Blame Me'
14. 'Have Your Heart Again'
Three years since the release of his break-out hit, ‘Pretty Heart’, and with headline slots booked at a range of festivals this year, Parker McCollum’s new album, Never Enough, feels like the project that cements his graduation from prodigy to powerhouse.
‘Handle On You’, the album’s Gold-certified first single, continues to surge towards the No. 1 spot at country radio, perfectly capturing the essence of the album as a whole - a rarely accomplished feat for a lead single.
For much of Never Enough, Parker McCollum doubles down on the ‘Pretty Heart’ blueprint of honeyed, earworm hooks that detail his alcohol-dressed wounds.
However, there are numerous moments where the young star surprises listeners by stripping away the muscled-up, electric guitars and instead returns to the more intricate, sparser sound that pervaded his much-loved independently released 2017 project, Probably Wrong.
‘Things I Never Told You’ and ‘Lessons From An Old Man’ are exquisite examples of this; the high-octane revs of his radio-friendly hits are drastically toned down for an unhurried, deliberate reflection on his relationship with his family.
‘Tails I Lose’ switches the subject matter back to heartbreak, but retains the sense of openness that comes when McCollum removes the heavy production he traditionally opts for.
‘Burn It Down’ ups the ante, yet the understated vocal filter, the subtly energising guitar riff and the soaring chorus combine for one of the undoubted highlights of the album, showcasing a sense of balance that was perhaps lacking on his previous project, Gold Chain Cowboy.
A criticism that can be levelled at McCollum is, in a way, a backhanded compliment. The 6 ft 2, smooth-talking hunk is obviously a cool customer - but at times, it feels like he’s almost too cool.
On the forlorn ballads that he so loves, his off-hand, laid-back drawl perfectly delivers his despondence. But when he needs to shift through the gears for a celebratory anthem such as ‘Wheel’, the uber-casual nature of his vocals can at times suggest an apathetic demeanour.
Nonetheless, Never Enough feels like a leap forward for McCollum, who clearly doesn’t shy away from opportunities to experiment and expand his sonic horizons.
‘Have Your Heart Again’ epitomises this, with McCollum’s voice seamlessly taking flight into a soul-stirring falsetto, before it lands softly against the cushioned solace of the accompanying piano.
Given the impact of songs like this on his new project, it’s safe to say Never Enough will well and truly whet fans’ appetites.
Parker McCollum's 2023 album, Never Enough, is released May 12 via MCA Nashville.
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