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Robert Miller Releases Second Solo Album

Reviewing music can sometimes be difficult because music is conceptual, kind of meaningless. It has as much value or thought put into it as much as the artist does, but even more so by the listener. Listening to so many tracks for a living, you sometimes get a little bogged down or even cynical about music because the intent is everything at least for me. Going into Miller Rocks, the new jazz/rock album from musician Robert Miller, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but even my ambiguous expectations were shattered by just how good this album was.

A few very minor things I’ll address right out of the gate, the vocal mixing is a little inconsistent at best, and problematic on some tracks, like the second song “1000 Days”, where sometimes it was really hard to make out what was being said. Other times there’s just a little too much reverb which can add a subtle ambient effect on some of the more jazzy tracks, but since the production is very much instrumentally driven, you kind of forget about it quickly. This album is just dripping with aesthetics and in a year where I’ve had to listen to a bevy of hard-edged tracks that are entirely reflective and almost reactionary to the past year, listening to something that is just so breezy and relaxed and more than anything, confident, brought a huge smile to my face. First off, this whole album is such a breeze and so many times listening to the 10 tracks, I was shocked at how quickly some songs came and went.

ROBERT MILLER’S PROJECT GRAND SLAM: https://www.facebook.com/projectgrandslam/

None of them ever felt too brief, but I immediately played the song over just to transport myself into the world that Miller and his collaborators on the album have created. Truly the album highlight is undoubtedly “African Nights (For Chick)”. Just. Wow. In less than 2 minutes Miller recaptures the magic of work in the neo-jazz, electronic that you might only sometimes see presently in acts like Todd Terje. It’s seriously just so exciting to listen to and highlights the biggest strengths of the album on both an instrumental variety, but also because the band works best I think when the lyrics are at their simplest. The subject matter here is pretty familiar, mainly about love, good times, and just general positive vibes. There’s the occasional tonal black sheep like the darker toned “To Heal My Heart” which is on the more lyrically dense than say the fun almost early Beach Boys sounding “To The Zoo!”.

I think Miller has plenty of ambition as shown by the complex harmonies and the way he weaves all the pieces together, but I think he stays in his comfort zone with the subject matter in a way that doesn’t come across as shy or distant. I can say with absolute certainty I will come back to this album often this year, because its just a positive groovy record that only asks of you to just mellow out and enjoy the ride with Miller.

John McCall

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