With Solid Gold, the depth of Miller’s musical awareness ensures that the songs take center stage the whole time.
1. Solid Gold
2. Don’t Give Away Love
3. Passed Midnight
4. A Feeling Called Lonesome
5. In A Daze
6. My Sanity
7. Highway Shoes
8. Where Daniel Stood
9. Even If
10. Seeing Clear
11. Always November
12. I Wish
“I hate being cold,” sings Miles Miller during one of the verses on his new album Solid Gold. “Won’t you warm me up now?”
It’s unlikely that Miller wrote those words with his own music in mind, but he might as well have. Solid Gold, his solo debut, glows from start to finish, with the incandescence of a campfire or a gentle flame from the fireplace.
A song cycle, in Miller’s own words, “about a love story that crumbles,” Solid Gold traverses the stages of separation, distance, grief, longing, defeat, resignation and, ultimately, re-connection with one’s own ability to love that follow in the wake of a breakup. From a listener’s perspective, you couldn’t ask for better sustenance for the soul than what Miller’s songs provide.
Known best as the drummer behind Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers and Town Mountain, while also long recognized for his harmonies and musical-director skills, Miller’s first love has always been the guitar - although you wouldn’t necessarily know it listening to Solid Gold. Sumptuous arrangements and a round, gorgeous mix reveal the creative mind of an artist with an innate appreciation for the role every instrument plays in serving the greater whole.
Miller and company — including Simpson in the producer’s chair and mixing engineer Sean Sullivan — certainly highlight the vocal, but it can’t be overstated how much care and attention went into every small detail here. On the title track, for example, the acoustic guitar is mixed almost imperceptibly as support for the song’s slow-strolling gait, even when the other instruments clear away.
Meanwhile, piano and electric guitar courtesy of Mike Rojas and Laur Joamets practically steal the show throughout—albeit in a most graceful, understated manner. Meanwhile, in a fitting twist, Simpson trades places with Miller to take a seat behind the drums, doing a more-than-respectable job of supplying the right balance of restraint, feel and flavor.
While so many of Miller’s contemporaries have sought to reach the promised land between dusty ‘70s production values, AM-radio timelessness and modern sensibilities, it’s shocking how easily Miller gets there on Solid Gold. Every element here fits together to achieve the kind of cohesion every artist dreams about when entering a recording studio.
If we didn’t know better, for example, the record label could have had us all believing that the breathtaking ballad ‘A Feeling Called Lonesome’ was a lost classic that had sat in a vault for who-knows how long. Miller, with his powerful yet laid-back vocal delivery, gives the album an almost disheveled, lived-in quality that makes him totally believable as the person telling these stories.
If there’s one fault here, it’s that the music is so exquisitely put-together that lines like “I’m drunk and lonely all by myself / pickin’ memories off of a shelf / I’ll be damned if your face didn’t creep into my mind” don’t always land with quite the sorrowful impact Miller intends. At times, alas, the songs are almost too enjoyable on a sonic level. But that’s a great problem for any artist to have.
It’s a bit too convenient to say that Solid Gold puts Miller on the short list of artists who came out from behind the drumkit to seize the spotlight. Make no mistake: we should probably expect that to happen now.
But on Solid Gold, the depth of Miller’s musical awareness ensures that the songs take center stage the whole time.
Miles Miller's 2023 album, Solid Gold, is released July 7 via Easy Lovin Records / Thirty Tigers.