After five albums at the helm of the Atlanta-based band the Whigs, as well as countless tours and television appearances, Parker Gispert found himself at the proverbial crossroads when the group decided to take a hiatus in 2017. He had done solo shows before, mostly stripped down covers of the songs he had written for the Whigs, but now, faced with an uncertain future, he knew he had to make some decisions about his career if he was to move forward.
“I am a rock artist. I mean you no harm,” he sings on the surprisingly sedate “Do Some Country,” one of several songs of assurance and repose that dot the eight song set. It’s not exactly clear what sort of “rock” he’s referring to, what with the spiritual and metaphorical references littered throughout, but it’s clear he’s cooly composed as well. The ambiance and atmosphere that comes across in songs such as “Life in the Goldilocks Zone,” “Through the Canvas” and “Magnolia Sunset” was inspired by Gispert’s retreat to an ancient farmhouse set on 100 acres, sans heat and running water. Hence, the far glow of distant horizons lends a serenity to each offering, all ambiance and atmosphere enhanced by cellos, violins and acoustic guitars, along with lyrics like these:
“Magnolia sunrise over the mountains
Clean air, in your hair, another Saturday morning
Birds racing airplanes out in the country
Time flies, hypnotized, it’s just another Saturday morning”
Only the insistent buzz of “Is It 9?” breaks the spell, but even there, Gispert’s ability to create specific soundscapes remains intact. In that sense, Sunlight Tonight is a truly remarkable record and one that makes an impressive addition to his resume, with or without the Whigs. It possesses a certain shimmer, a meditative mystique that’s readily welcome in today’s terse and frantic world. And while it finds its maker occasionally daring to dabble outside the lines, it provides a comforting connection regardless.