A solid slice of Americana
Reviewed November 2009
For Crying Out Loud
By Scott Miller & The Commonwealth
F.A.Y. Recordings: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
With six albums out since 2000, Scott Miller is no newcomer to Americana music. With his band, The Commonwealth, his music combines alt-country, straight-ahead power rock, and infectious pop and all of it bears a distinct taste of his native Tennessee. His latest is "For Crying Out Loud." Miller sings, plays guitar and wrote or co-wrote 12 of the 13 tunes.
The opener is "Cheap Ain't Cheap (For Crying Out Loud)," a country-rock raveup that plays a timely lyrical litany about the weak economy against a memorable melodic riff. Next comes a slide-guitar blues-rock tune, "Sin in Indiana," about small-town concerns including methamphetamine, and it is clear that Miller is a gifted songwriter. "I'm Right Here, My Love" is a soft, country-folk song that makes good use of a duet appearance by vocalist Patty Griffin, and like nearly every cut on the disc has a memorable melody. An Appalachian flavor, helped by Miller's drawl, some good slide guitar work and the arrangement, is captured on "Let You Down." "Wildcat Whistle" is a serious rocker that also has some down-home feel. On "Claire Marie," Miller comes a bit too close to co-opting the Blasters' classic rocker "Marie Marie," which has a very similar title, structure and lyrics. "I Can't Dance" corrects this misfire immediately with a catchy, alt-county rock tune that boogies without borrowing.
No song is as long as four minutes on the disc, but an instrumental tune dissolves into "Double Indemnity," a dark-toned country blues which features expressive lyrics about desperate characters in the back country over sighing steel guitar, conveying an atmosphere of mystery and despair.
Scott Miller is stepping up to a bigger audience with "For Crying Out Loud," a disc with broad appeal to Americana fans and listeners who appreciate good, well-crafted country-rock music.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.