It can’t just be me that does this can it? Don’t we all scan the tracklist of albums before we listen to them trying to work out what we think they’ll sound like?
OK, whether its only me or not, I did it with “Cards On The Table” and saw the last one was called “Wasted Years”. Urmmmm, cards on the table, as it were, I am wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt. So of course I began singing the song.
I get to the end of the record and it turns out Jason Charles Miller was covering the thing, its just that he has the skill to turn Adrian Smith’s pop rocker into a full on folk ballad. It’s a cracker too.
Miller is well versed in metal. He made his name in the mighty Godhead, probably bigger in America than they were over here in the UK, they spent the late 90s and early 2000s being innovative.
To be truthful I didn’t know of this second musical career (he’s a busy boy is JCM, a presenter, voice actor and all round good guy) until he turned up singing with Hannah Aldridge on her single last year, but just like everything he touches, this is solid gold.
“The River” – the record’s opening track- is a beauty. Swampy acoustics that you know are going to explode. Zakk Wylde’s seminal Pride And Glory was full of stuff like this.
There’s perhaps something a little more rootsy about “…..Table” but make no mistake, this hits hard. In the case of “Expiration Day”, that means musically and lyrically, or when it comes to the astonishingly good “Reckless” it just means it’d go toe to toe in the Sons Of Anarchy Clubhouse and I’m not betting against it.
A lifetime in music (he now runs a recording complex in LA) means JCM can call on some of the best players around, Kenny Aronoff, Austin Hanks, Duane Betts, Eban Schletter, Paul Cartwright, and Cameron Stone are just some of the band here, but the songs and voice or pure Miller. “Losing My Way” is mighty, while the take on Badfinger’s “Day After Day” (and the harmony vocals are incredible) is an acoustic diversion.
“You’re About To” has all the aggression of Steve Earle circa “Copperhead Road”, and I’m willing to bet you right now that no song of this type shakes the foundations this year like “I’m No Good”. There’s not many that make Monster Truck look weedy, that’s all I’m saying……oh and that’s before the Clutch-esque riff that ushers in “Get Out”.
Blackberry Smoke fans need to get to “Chasing The Sun” immediately (not to mention Austin Shanks fans too as he’s on it) and if I haven’t mentioned ZZ Top yet, there’s a bit of the Texas boogie in “Better Than Never”.
Some people are just good at everything they do and I’m willing to bet that Jason Charles Miller is one of them. Charlie Starr of the aforementioned Blackberry Smoke reckons that this album is going to “Kick a hole in Nashville”. Andy Thorley of Maximum Volume Music has loved “southern rock” ever since he heard Georgia Satellites on tv as a kid (and yes, I’m aware I’ve just referred to myself in the third person) and this is as good as it gets.
Southern fried sounds for metal fans? Something like that. For Jason Charles Miller, these are the golden years. If you know, you know.