Miller and the Commonwealth
label: Sugar Hill
our score: 4.0 out of 5.0
Add one more
name to the recent spate of earnest singer-songwriters. Knoxville's
Scott Miller and his band the Commonwealth show a lot of promise
on this album, Miller's second on his own since his old band,
The V-Roys, broke up in 2000.
is called Upside Downside because it is grouped into two
halves, one consisting of heartland rockers, and the other consisting
of acoustic country ditties in true Appalachian style. Miller
pulls off both equally well.
of the rock side begin with the back-to-basics Chuck Berry-influenced
barroom punch of "It Didn't Take Too Long." "The
Way" is a tender, contemplative ballad which is assisted
greatly by the accompanying vocals of Patty Griffin. "Pull
Your Load" is another fun blues romp, while "Chill,
Relax, Now" follows in the tradition of songs like "Tequila"
in which the only vocals are the title words shouted. It may be
just filler, but it's a fun, danceable track nonetheless.
side kicks off with "Amtrak Crescent," a great track
in the time-honored American tradition of the travel song. It's
a must for your next train ride. Griffin adds a heavenly touch
to "Angels Dwell," while "Ciderville Saturday Night"
accents Miller's bluegrass influence. "Red Ball Express"
is a soldier's tale of service in World War II which shows off
Miller's love of American history. "For Jack Tymon"
provides the album's final touch, showcasing Miller alone on guitar
and vocals for a tender, heartwarming ballad.
If Scott Miller
can find a way to combine his two distinct musical personalities
into one cohesive, readily-digestible sound, he'd really have
a bright future. Right now, he seems a bit too schizophrenic for
mainstream consumption. However, one can easily tell Miller is
honest and heartfelt in his songs and won't sell out to corporate
control any time soon. So search his music out and let's hope
he really does find "the way."
liked Upside Downside...
It Didn't Take Too Long
2. Raised by the Graves
3. The Way
4. Pull Your Load
5. Second Chance
6. Chill, Relax, Now
7. Amtrack Crescent
8. Angels Dwell
9. Ciderville Saturday Night
10. I've Got A Plan
11. Red Ball Express
12. For Jack Tymon