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Album review: Parker Millsap, ‘On the Very Last Day’

These are apocalyptic times, and no one seems to know that better than the 23-year-old, Pentecostal-raised Oklahoma native Parker Millsap, whose sophomore album is suffused with spiritual depth and songwriting genius. A restless soul who sounds like a mix of Steve Earle and My Morning Jacket, Millsap actually confronts nuclear apocalypse on the title track (“Gonna clutch my heart and lift my face. . . gonna sing ‘Amazing Grace’ ”), but the true stunner is “Heaven Sent,” where he sings plaintively of a gay friend whose evangelical father rejects him (“You say it’s a sin but it’s how I’ve always been”). “Hades Pleads” (infused with Greek mythology and breakdown fiddle) and the rockabilly-style “Hands Up” (about an unemployed veteran robbing a convenience store) rock hard; a Southern gothic feel recalls the Band at times. All songs are Millsap’s, apart from a cover of the Gary Davis/Fred McDowell gospel blues “You Gotta Move,” on which he offers his best Robert Plant impression. An unusual but rewarding album.

STEVE MORSE

Essential “Heaven Sent”

Parker Millsap performs at Great Scott May 3.