Patty Griffin, Tim O’Brien help Miller start 2009 independently
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Scott Miller is best known for non-stop touring with his band the Commonwealth, and for his eight prior critically acclaimed albums including the recent Appalachian Refugee Demos. In fact it was with proceeds from Internet sales of that album (demos from a Marantz hard-disc recorder with handmade cover art for each copy) that he financed his forthcoming release titled For Crying Out Loud. The album, due out April 14 on Miller’s own F.A.Y. Records, was produced by Nashville producer Mike Webb (Allison Moorer, Stacey Earle, Glenn Tilbrook) and features the Commonwealth (guitarist/keyboardist Jeremy Pennebaker, bassist Chris Autry and drummer Shawn McWilliams) and includes guest artists Patty Griffin and Tim O'Brien.
In making the new album, Miller took the idea one step further: He’d have the band play to guitar and vocal performances on those demos, building them into full-on band tracks. The ultimate wisdom of this wild notion can be found within the smokin’ grooves of For Crying Out Loud.
The album possesses a prevailing character and gritty, hard-earned spirit. It’s jammed full of scrappy, defiant rockers, interspersed with tender tunes suffused with the quiet joys of home and hearth. The pummeling, power-chord driven opener “Cheap Ain't Cheap (For Crying Out Loud)” is a shout-along anthem for the legions of newly unemployed.. Miller had a hunch that the blackly (and bleakly) humorous song “would be a great soundtrack for the (then) impending economic meltdown which I had predicted years ago but wasn’t smart enough to do anything about — like buy stock in cardboard boxes that people use to put their desk junk in when they lose their jobs. Now the record’s coming out, and I’m pretty sure we still haven’t seen the bottom yet.”
“Let You Down,” co-written with Doug Lancio (who produced two of the tracks on For Crying Out Loud) is an exercise in brutal self-awareness. (He and Miller also teamed up for the eerie sounding “Double Indemnity,” a tale based on the actual murder case that inspired Billy Wilder's classic film.) The Cajun-spiced torque of “Claire Marie” channels the very essence of seminal rock and roll, and then there’s the wicked-clever “Sin in Indiana,” its characters — Henry Streator, Chalmers Wolcott and Magnolia Hempstead — named after exit signs Miller had spotted and dutifully jotted down while touring the Midwest with his band.
The record’s gentle side is represented by the gorgeous “I’m Right Here, My Love,” a ballad on which he’s joined by Patty Griffin. “The thing I like about working with Patty is that we got along great before we’d even heard each other’s music,” Scott marvels. “We also grew up in the same home town, except mine was in Virginia and hers was in Maine.”
Miller, one of the founders of the seminal roots rock band The Vroys, who recorded three albums for Steve Earle and Jack Emerson's label E-Squared Records--went on to a successful solo career at Sugar Hill records where he released four critically acclaimed albums from 2001 -2008. He now joins many independently minded artists of today by releasing his own record, For Crying Out Loud.
Throughout his career, Miller has attracted favorable press notices. No Depression observed, “Probably too smart by half for his own damn good, Scott Miller straddles the cerebral and the visceral.” Added the Washington Post, “In addition to his considerable talents as tunesmith, Miller has two things going for him: a voice gruff enough to suit the music he loves and a personality lighthearted enough to keep the performances from dragging.” And the Nashville Scene summed it up: “Miller stays in touch with his inner rebel while alternating between hillbilly folk and spitfire garage rock that tried to ignore how well-crafted his songs are.”
Miller and the Commonwealth will take to the road immediately following the album’s April 14 release with dates to follow shortly.