With his eponymous, second solo album, Dave Miller—a Chicago by way of New York by way of Chicago guitarist—has realized his crowning glory.
Miller seems more focused, more melodic and generally more guitar-centric this time around, with almost nary a hint of the avant-garde jazz/psychedelic/folk found on 2016’s “Old Door Phantoms” or the experimental rock on the three albums by previous band Algernon.
Continuing in the instrumental-music vein of the above-mentioned efforts, “Dave Miller” has secured the man a spot alongside such tone meisters as Bill Frisell, Arlen Roth, John Jorgenson, Charlie Hunter and Johnny A.
Miller was kind enough to talk a little about his latest refinements.
“I’m always writing music, studying composition and developing my sound on the guitar,” he told Good New Music by email. “That never really stops and is a daily practice. That being said, I do prioritize melody a whole hell of a lot.”
As far as this reviewer’s perceived increase in Miller’s focus, “… that is for sure something I also practice on a daily basis,” he replied, “in all walks of life, really—trying to be more present and trim the fat. I think the main thing that was different about this record vs. ‘Old Door Phantoms’ is that, since I own the (Whiskey Point Recording) studio, I had unlimited studio time to add more instruments, mix to my heart’s content, and generally spend a ton of quality time to sculpt the product. That was indispensable, for sure.”
His stylistic eclecticism remains, matched by the variety of guitars he uses on the album. Here’s a list he provided GNM “from memory”: Gibson ES-335, Fano TC6 Alt de Facto, Teisco Del Ray ET-200, Danelectro baritone, Breedlove acoustic and Gretsch 5715 Electromatic lap steel.
Opening cut “Hand Dipped” delights in its multitracked guitars, which include soul-shaking rhythm and laser-sharp lead set off by fuzzy forays into distortion that take over and carry the tune as they pan back-and-forth between the left and right channels.
The slightly Afro-soul “Rollerblade or Die” chugs along in raw magnificence with a faint sheen of old-school-dub reverb, not unlike something by the Budos Band. “Your New Truth” rings of late-’50s sentimental balladry—imagine Johnny playing “Sleep Walk” without Santo, with a surprise blues coda.
The pinnacle, however, is reached on the penultimate “BW,” a high-energy amalgamation that takes the best bits of “Polk Salad Annie,” “Harper Valley PTA” and “Dance to the Music,” and drops in a little chicken-pickin’ at just the right spot.
1. Hand Dipped
2. Fellow Man
3. Rollerblade Or Die
4. Bison Boom
5. Your New Truth
6. Ellie & Arthur
8. Deep Moraine
Total time: 41:00