Shelley Miller – When It’s All Gone, You Come Back
[tags: acoustic, folk, jazzy, 2010]
Listen while reading:
I’m proud to introduce to you: Shelley Miller, songstress hailing from Chicago/Illinois who is about to release her third album When It’s All Gone, You Come Back that will hit the road March 9. The album reminds me of Joe Pug’s masterpiece Messenger even though it’s not quite the same style. But the meandering trough quiet acoustic tracks (Nadine or Blame The Sky) and more aroused ones (Hard Love or the e-guitar driven Fool For Loving You) is a shared feature of both artists. If you are familiar with Australian (now London based) singer-songwriter Holly Throsby, you also will hear definite parallels in the wonderful ballads Shelley offers en masse (best example is All The Way Down, that even shows some shared vocal techniques).
The strength of the record lies in its variety, at least if you’re looking for an album that combines rock ballads, extremely well played acoustic folk with wonderfull shimmering melodies (maybe with some jazz pop flavor at some points), indie folk (I Don’t Mind or Burn To Buckle) and a portion of alt country appeal (It Was Billy). Personally I think the mix is bold but also shows the talent for creating a consistent overall picture, because everything seems to be at the right place if you take the time to really listen to the whole album from the beginning to the end. Every time the record seems to get a bit monotonous, Shelley manages to prevent it from happening. Take the track Wait For You as an example, it starts with only acoustic guitar and vocals, but in the middle some cymbals come in and then some decent percussions in the back wherefore the track never gets boring. In fact the songs are all really good, well arranged and composed with lots of ideas (e.g. the great violin melody in the background of Texarkana).
Privately Shelley Miller works as a guitar teacher and I don’t know if this is one of the reasons, that she’s able to write such lovely and great melodies. Love Is Not Crazy shows so many emotions, so much feeling alone in the guitar notes that you instantly know: this woman got enormous talent and it should not take too long to find a constant audience and a regular fan base. The more I listen to When It’s All Gone, You Come Back, the more I hear the jazzy nuances and a hint of Katie Melua’s jazz/blues pop of her first album Piece by Piece. And I know, Katie Melua isn’t quite the best reference for an indie blog that gives a big F You to all shitty major labels, but Piece By Piece had its moments and I think I can hear some of them here too. But don’t worry, Shelley Miller just uses those influences to add her personal mark to them – no copying, but rather an improving of given structures.
So the music flies by and guides you through many different genres of mostly acoustic music, Shelley’s voice is present all the time as an important and unique part, forming the character of the album. But, to be honest, sometimes I got the idea that the music was written around the vocals, what leads to the assumption that the music itself was neglected a bit. I’m talking about Figure It Out. The song is, as I said above, very well placed in the whole context of the album, but it also is the weakest track in my opinion. I just can’t feel the honesty, the passion, but maybe that’s just my point of view and I don’t want to beat a dead horse here. Let’s just say that even such a good album like this one has its little blemish and quirks (remember the e-guitar driven rock ballad track Fool For Loving You among all those sensitive acoustic tracks?).
On the long run the positive aspects are clearly the elements that shape the record and the acoustic ballads are the real strength of it. I think it reasonable to tag the album as folk, even though it isn’t quite the earthy folk often featured here. It’s more like the jazzy, dark-red cushion folk that nearly got nothing in common with the folk that is played by folksters like the recently featured Tim Schmidt or alltime classic Laura Gibson. But listen to the tracks I embedded, they are just beautiful and they are good indicators for the rest of the album. This music is good, this music is good, this music is…ehm…you get my point – and now don’t wait and pre-order the record directly via Shelley’s personal homepage or buy the MP3s via cdbaby.com. If you want to preview some tracks, you can check out her MySpace or her Last.fm site (with all the tracks streamable).
And don’t forget to join the release party of the album on March 12 if you are in the area. “The CD release party is Friday, March 12 @ 9 pm at Martyrs, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Advance tickets/info available at