Flyinshoes Review

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BEN MILLER BAND —CHOKE CHERRY TREE (New West Records)

www.newwestrecords.com

www.benmillerband.com

Joplin, Missouri-bred Ben Miller Band is an eclectic bunch if there ever was. Led by Miller and co-founder member, Scott Leeper augmented by two new members in Rachel Ammons and Smilin’ Bob Lewis, Choke Cheery Tree sees the retooled line-up put out the band’s third album.  

After a more than pleasant opening with “Nothing Gets Me Down” I believed a wee treasure had landed on my lap, only for my hopes be crushed through the totally raw inclusions “Akira Kurosawa” and “One more Time” before sanity was restored with the pulsating roots fuelled “Big Boy”. A small posse of players and harmony vocalists aids the band’s playing. The attraction for the music swings like a pendulum due to a few hit and miss tracks, for to my mind Miller's talent is better served when he keeps it spare and subtle (because he writes a good lyric). 

Getting into a groove, a style and vibe I great admire Miller works his way, majestically, through the accordion warmed chugging paced “Trapeze”. With him leaning every so slightly towards the music of The Band he capitalises on it with the likewise (albeit this time he becomes more involved and brooding as piano is a strong influence) “Lighthouse”; “Redwing Blackbird” has Rachel sing lead and with close harmonies, and forceful rhythm section and the theme of never giving up it is a real band effort. 

They band get down and funky for “Life Of Crime”, and though solid it is only ever going to be a goodtime album track, as for “Sketchbook” is contains a dash, a merriment. Set to get you feet tapping and body pulsating to a rhythm mixed with fiddle the quick paced story that takes the listener through a wedding, family trauma, and Wal-Mart at four in the morning before they porcupine a voodoo doll in the desert. 

Closing up the recording you have lazy paced ballad “My Own Good Time” followed by the mystical “Mississippi Cure” as darkness falls, like unrelenting rain submerges the tune. Interesting, as you have keyboards pound out a beat on top of what is an already full-bodied, live time sound to lend itself to a cinematic production. 

        Maurice Hope  

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This site is the sister site to The House Concert Hub community and has been inherited in the main by kind donation of Shaun Belcher and Trailer Star.

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1
Rod Picott
70 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
GC,AN,LM,SZ,TK
2
JW Roy & The Royal Family
62 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,PJ,DH
3
Steph Cameron
61 pts.
Daybreak over Jackson Street
Pheromona
ML
4
JD McPherson
54 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
AR,RK,LK
5
Sarah Morris
53 pts.
Hearts In Need Of Repair
Independent
 
6
Turnpike Troubadours
52 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
MA,GF
7
Chris Hillman
51 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
 
8
Hayward Williams
39 pts.
Pretenders
Why River Records
KG,JB,JBO
9
Joe Henry
38 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
 
10
Jim White
37 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
JJ
12
Margo Price
35 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
 
11
Mark Martyre
35 pts.
Rivers
Independent
MF
13
Mavis Staples
32 pts.
If All I Was Was Black
Anti
HO
 
Peter Oren
32 pts.
Anthropocene
Western Vinyl
RB,HB
15
Fred Wickham
29 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
 
16
Jeffrey Martin
27 pts.
One Go Around
Fluff & Gravy Records
HDB
17
Blitzen Trapper
25 pts.
Wild and Reckless
Lojinx
JDO
 
Jeff Crosby
25 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records
FCE,FC,JS
19
Dori Freeman
24 pts.
Letters Never Read
Blue Hens Music
 
 
Hardpan
24 pts.
Hardpan
Blue Rose Records
WR
21
The Deep Dark Woods
21 pts.
Yarrow
Six Shooter
JF
22
Lilly Hiatt
20 pts.
Trinity Lane
New West
TJ
 
Tom Russell
20 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
JAB
24
Eilen Jewell
19 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
MW
25
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
FS

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