SXSW 2013: Zach Winters / Parker Millsap 

The Norman man’s voice is a high, yearning one, perfect for injecting a sense of longing into a tune. He also had three female vocalists with him, and their vocals added a unique dimension to Winters’ sound. A drummer, hand percussionist, bassist and electric guitarist filled out the rest of the band, which gave Winters’ pristine, acoustic-led tunes heft.

Still, the vocal melodies and harmonies combined to be the best part of the set. If you’re into gentle, mature folk-pop with a lot of vocals (i.e. Fleet Foxes, old-school Grizzly Bear or old-school Iron & Wine), you’ll be all about Winters’ beautiful music.

Parker Millsap, in stark contrast, featured just Millsap with a guitar, a stand-up bass, and a violin. The set also relied heavily on vocals, but in a completely different manner. The Purcell native’s commanding rasp is an arresting, can’t-turn-away phenomenon; it’s surprising to hear a voice with such presence and personality from someone so young.

The band supported him well, but the spotlight was firmly on Millsap’s voice and storytelling. His tales of religion gone wrong (and occasionally sort of right) are gripping tales full of details and atmosphere; it’s a rare feat to match a fresh voice with a unique lyrical take, but Millsap has a line on both of them early.

His will be a name that you hear a lot in the next few years, because I believe he’s a rare talent. Check his music out immediately. —Stephen Carradini

Hey! Read This:
Parker Millsap interview      
Zach Winters’ They Were Longing For a Better Country album review   

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