PARKER GISPERT (of The Whigs) just dazzled us with a dreamy, moving solo in-store performance before his full-length show at THE RADIO ROOM, and GREENVILLE braved the cold and turned out strong!

We knew that PARKER GISPERT’S new album SUNLIGHT TONIGHT reimagined the “solo acoustic” concept as something much more massive and gorgeous. We did NOT know he’d bring that neo-psychedelic, kaleidoscopic beauty so fully into our humble abode today. What an incredible performance, and we’re so thankful that Greenville’s music lovers packed the place to give him a rapt audience. We thank Parker, and we thank you!

Parker Gispert was still in college when he helped form the Whigs in the early 2000s. But after five critically-acclaimed albums, the Athens, Georgia-bred rockers decided to pull back on activity in 2017. Which left Gispert, who had spent the majority of his adult life either in the studio or on the road with the band, at a crossroads. “It occurred to me that if I wanted to record and tour that I was going to need to do it solo,” the singer, songwriter and guitarist says. “I’d always thought about it in the back of my mind as something that I wanted to do one day, but ‘one day’ had never really come.”

Now, ‘one day’ is here in the form of Sunlight Tonight, Gispert’s debut solo album (produced and mixed by Emery Dobyns). A lot of guys from rock bands who go solo just hire another bassist and drummer; but Gispert didn’t want to go that route.

Ultimately, his change in musical direction was helped along by a change in geography. A longtime resident of Nashville (by way of Atlanta, and then Athens), Gispert last year accepted an invitation from a friend to visit his 100-acre hemp farm, located roughly an hour outside Music City. That plot of land was where Sunlight Tonight came into being.

“I would wake up early and get my guitar and walk outside and come up with all these songs,” Gispert says. “And without a band to turn to as the deciding factor on, say, a melody or a lyric, I ended up turning to the scenery and the landscape I was dealing with instead. The farm was like my collaborator—it kind of answered everything for me, as weird as that sounds. And the songs started coming pretty quickly.”

The first one that came is also the one that opens Sunlight Tonight—a psychedelia-laced meditation titled “Through the Canvas.” Built on a bed of acoustic guitar and cello, the song finds Gispert laying out what is essentially a statement of purpose: “Suddenly I got up / Suddenly I could move / shook off all the bullshit that was weighing down my shoes.”

The eight-song effort finds Gispert, known for leading the Whigs through raw and jangly southern-garage rave-ups, taking a decidedly different musical approach—biting electric guitar riffs are cast out in favor of gentle acoustic picking and strumming, and his band mates’ raucous rhythms are traded in for minimal accompaniment that includes light bass and drums, orchestral strings and even trumpet. Gispert’s lyrics, meanwhile, are his most introspective and personal to date (albeit with a bit of humor thrown in here and there) and they’re delivered in a vocal style that finds him pushing out on his range.

Explains Gispert, “With the Whigs, I had been in that band since I was a teenager. So when that slowed, I found myself in a place where I was almost paralyzed, like, What do I do next? It was just confusing. But that song sums up what happened when I got to the farm.”

That journey ended up being very unlike any Gispert had embarked upon previously. For starters, he says, “I wrote all of the songs for the record while outside, and that’s something I’d never done before. Usually I’d be in a cramped apartment or a studio space—not, like, walking around outside in a big open field at 1:00 AM, just singing and playing.” He laughs. “And the good thing is, I was on this secluded property, so nobody could see me—it didn’t matter if I looked like a total goofball just wandering around in my jean shorts strumming an acoustic guitar.”

The material that Gispert came up at the farm with was primarily acoustic-based, but at the same time still incredibly diverse, from the dark folk of “Magnolia Sunrise” to the ambient tones of “Life in the Goldilocks Zone”; the T. Rex-y groove-glam of “Volcano,” to the lo-fi garage-fuzz of “Is It Nine”; the exuberant mariachi-horn-rock of “Too Dumb to Love Anyone” (the one composition Gispert says was originally written with the Whigs in mind) to the oddball genre exercise “Do Some Country.” That last one also features some witty wordplay (“I am a rock artist,” Gispert sings, before adding, “I paint pictures on limestone”), as well as a unique origin story regarding its title. “I was at a Nikki Lane show,” Gispert recalls, “and in between songs this woman in the audience kept yelling [in heavy southern accent] “C’mon Nikki! Do some country!” And my friend and I were just like, ‘Man…that would be such a sweet song title!’ ”

There are other lighthearted moments on Sunlight Tonight, such as the nursery-rhyme-like “Is It Nine,” on which Gispert attempts to determine which number would fit best into the alphabet. The genesis of that riddle? “It was just a ridiculous question I asked myself, and I had never heard a song about that particular question before,” he explains. “So I thought for my first solo album it would be a good idea to have one track that was uniquely ‘Parker.’ Because there are so many love songs or political songs or whatever out there already.” Which is not to say that Gispert shies away from those topics on Sunlight Tonight. “Too Dumb to Love Anyone,” for one, addresses his present station in life as an unwedded man. “I’m 36, and most of my friends are at that point where they’re getting married and having kids,” he says. “And my friends’ wives will say things to me like, ‘Parker, when are you gonna meet somebody and join the club?’ So I always say, the only thing standing in between me and a great relationship is that the idea has never occurred to me.”

Then there’s “Magnolia Sunrise,” which unfolds somewhat uneventfully, with Gispert grabbing breakfast at a local diner (“Coffee, Tennessee / grits made to order”) before an anxious waitress shatters his mundane tranquility: “There’s still a lot that could go wrong,” she tells him. As the guitar accompaniment builds and the orchestral strings turn frantic, Gispert intones, ominously, “One Saturday morning / there will be no warning.”

The narrative, Gispert says, “is based on a real interaction I had, at a diner right down the road that I’d go to all the time in the mornings. I ended up talking to this waitress who was having irrational fears of, like, a hurricane coming, or a nuclear threat. It brings up this idea of, you could be chilling out, enjoying your day, and when you least expect it, that’s when something happens—tragedy could be right around the corner.”

Clearly, Gispert’s environment and experiences at the farm factored heavily into the words and music he wrote for Sunlight Tonight. But when it came time to record the material, he left his rural surroundings behind and headed back into Nashville, cutting tracks at Blackbird Studios and Hacienda Studios, with producer Emery Dobyns (Patti Smith, Antony and the Johnsons) at the helm. Dobyns also added various instrumentation to the tracks, alongside contributions from Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, former Sparklehorse vocalist Sol Seppy and Adele bassist Samuel Dixon, among other musicians. “It was like there was one phase of the record, which was me alone writing everything,” Gispert says. “And then there was the second phase, the studio phase, which was very much a team effort, with Emery shaping the record sonically and production-wise.”

When it comes to playing this material live, however, Gispert has been going it alone—an atypical arrangement for him onstage, but one that he’s been finding incredibly satisfying. “I love it a lot,” he says about being out on his own. “I feel really comfortable up there by myself, and in some respects I’m able to connect with the crowd in a way that I never was able to do with a band.” That said, Gispert still gets plenty of opportunities to play with his band, as the Whigs continue to reconvene for sporadic live shows, including a recent spate of dates celebrating the tenth anniversary of their 2008 record, Mission Control. But far from his solo endeavors having a negative impact on the group, he’s found the opposite to be true. “I’d always been afraid of doing something solo because I thought it might mess up the band vibe, but now I’m able to see that it actually helps,” Gispert says. “When we do get back together to play, it’s fun and it’s fresh and it has new life.”

As for what the future holds, Gispert is open to any and all possibilities that might follow in the wake of Sunlight Tonight. “Because I didn’t even see any of this happening, you know?” he says. “So I can’t really say what comes next. But it’s almost like a weight off my shoulders to not really know where I’m going from here.” One thing he can say for sure: the farm that served as both inspiration and companion to Gispert throughout the writing process for Sunlight Tonight is now a thing of the past. “I’ve moved away,” he reports. “I’m living over by a lake now.” Gispert laughs. “I’m trying to switch it up.”

HORIZON RECORDS has SUNLIGHT TONIGHT in-stock now on CD and vinyl LP!

  • Brad Mehldau Double Hitter Out Now Via Nonesuch!
                  Grammy Award winning jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, Brad Mehldau, has two new albums, After Bach II and Après Fauré, out on Nonesuch Records! […]
  • Kamasi Washington Turns to Dance on Fearless Movement, Out Now!
    Following 2015’s (aptly titled) The Epic and 2018’s Heaven and Earth, the Los Angeles saxophonist, composer, and band leader juggernaut’s Fearless Movement is “a celebration of music, dance, and the ever changing maze of the mind that makes us who we are”. […]
  • TECHNICS SL-D202 turntable
    The semi-auto SL-D202 was introduced in 1981 as the replacement of the D2 model. They continued the tradition of employing a high quality direct drive motor and great sounding tone arm. The cue control was moved to the outside of the table for easier access. This turntable has been professionally […]
  • TECHNICS SLD2 TURNTABLE w/ custom paint job
    The semi-auto SL-D2 is the workhorse of the Technics family. Time has proven this model extremely reliable due to its high-quality direct drive motor and tone arm. This unit features a unique (and very handsome) custom paint job and has been professionally inspected, refurbished, lubricated and has […]
  • Yamaha 5-disc Carousel CD Player
    Tons of programming options and 18bit digital conversion (w/ 8 X oversampling)! Heavy duty unit and professionally inspected and refurbished!     […]
  • Thorens MM 008 Pre-amplifier
    Audiophile grade phono pre-amplifier, extremely clean sound and as reliable and well-constructed as they get! High versatility and ease of use: the MM 008 phono preamplifier can be adjusted to match the tonal characteristics of your pick-up cartridge, ranging from an MM setting to three different […]
  • Technics SLDD2 Turntable
    Technics direct drive quality at an affordable price! The great thing about Technics is they made quality affordable tables that were never “cheap”. This semi-auto SL-DD2 is one of the easiest turntables to operate. Simply move the tone arm over to start the record! This turntable has been […]
  • Technics SLD20 Turntable
    The semi-auto SL-D20 was the most popular of the p-mount turntables. They are ultra-reliable and feature a high-quality direct drive motor. This table has been thoroughly tested and is operating at 100%! Has been fitted with a like new audio technical stylus, Plug and play!       […]
  • Onkyo TX SR 876 Receiver
    Modern AV receiver with plenty of inputs and outputs and turntable READY with on-board phono pre-amplifier! Robust power for surround or otherwise at 140 watts PER CHANNEL! 140 watts x 7 into 8 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.05% THD. THX® Ultra2 Plus certification new THX listening modes for optimized […]
  • Haffler XL 280 Power Amplifier
    Legendary dedicated power amplifier, pure audiophile grade sound (No gain or tone control needed!), and near non-existent self noise! This is one of the very best amplifiers that Hafler made. It offers 145 watts per channel into 8 ohms, and is stable down to 1 ohm, offering 325 watts for short […]
  • Audio Research LS1 Line Stage Amplifier
    No tone adjustment needed, pure sound for the sound purist! The Audio Research LS1 Line Stage Amplifier is designed to accommodate music lovers who exclusively use line-level input sources — digital or analog — for the reproduction and enjoyment of music in their home audio systems. In technology, […]
  • SONY BDP-S580 BLU-RAY PLAYER
    The BDP-S580 has built-in Wi-Fi and the best current lineup of streaming-media services, including Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, Vudu, Slacker, and CinemaNow! […]
  • TECHNICS SL-D30 TURNTABLE
    The Technics SL-D30 is a fantastic direct drive turntable featuring the same sound specifications as the SL-D3 model (Which is usually considerably higher in price) […]
  • TECHNICS SL-D20 TURNTABLE
    This unit has been completely refurbished including lubrication and calibration! Includes vintage Audio Technica cartridge with OEM stylus! […]
  • TECHNICS SL-D3 TURNTABLE
    The Technics SL-D3 is the FULLY AUTOMATIC version of the SL-D2 which is regarded as the workhorse of the Technics family. […]
  • TECHNICS SL-D2 TURNTABLE
    The Technics SL-D2 has been considered the workhorse of the Technics line of turntables for decades. […]
  • TECHNICS SL-D1 TURNTABLE
    The Technics SL-D1 turntable is a FULL MANUAL version of the legendary SL-D2, this model has been regarded as a “tank” and “indestructible” among hi-fi enthusiasts for decades. […]
  • SANSUI S2000 SPEAKERS
    The Sansui S2000 speakers have been highly regarded in the hi-fi community for decades and for good reason! […]
  • SAMSUNG BDPS 580 BLU-RAY PLAYER
    Very nice Blu-Ray player, with remote! Enjoy 3D Blu-ray Disc movies in Full HD 1080p--also supports standard Blu-ray Disc movies in HD and upscales DVDs to near HD quality. […]
  • RCA 45-EY-2 45rpm TURNTABLE
    The RCA 45-EY-2 is an AC operated 3 tube automatic phonograph with mono amplifier and speaker.  The turntable is a 45 RPM, model RP-190-1, which holds up to twelve 7 inch fine groove records. Uses crystal pickup with medium output voltage. Also uses Qty(1) PM Elliptical 4″ x 6″ speaker. […]
  • NAKAMICHI BX 300 CASSETTE DECK
    The BX-300 incorporates a wealth of original Nakamichi technology such as the Discrete Three Head system, a Direct Drive Asymmetrical, Diffused Resonance Dual Capstan Transport etc. […]
  • NAD 7020E RECEIVER
    This NAD 7020E is an absolutely rock solid receiver, 2x20watts and AM/FM receiver is perfect for bookshelf and medium sized speakers. To those familiar with the NAD 3020E Stereo Amp, this unit employs much of the same technology!       […]
X