A reference to Chris Miller’s former home in central Illinois, the songs do much the same, talking about Decatur, Springfield, and cities with streets named Jasper. And Miller delivers them with a true folkie’s heart and feel.
Miller proves quite the wizard on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, dobro, bass, and even the button accordion. “Springfield, Illinois” employs all of those instruments with music that, along with masterful lyrics, paints a beautiful picture. Same goes for “Scarlet Moon Over Jasper Street,” with the only electric guitar part on the record. The bluesy, gritty feel goes hand-in-hand with the tale of the kind of area of town found in every major city. Lyrically, the two cuts are a perfect example of how Miller makes his songs come to life with his words. “I’m Going Down That Road Someday” is one high-speed folk tune that will leave you marveling at his playing. Long bass runs intersect with the bluesy lyric and a solo that never loses steam even as it sits completely alone in the mix.
Several instrumental cuts show Miller’s chops. “The Prairie Sphynx” is a jazzy piece with great use of fingers and chords. “The Redwall Medley” is a lovely tune with European sensibilities, and the closer, “Clouds In the Valley” is an elegant piece with decided classical influence.
Vintage-gear geeks, take note; guitars used on the album include a ’39 Martin D-18 and a ’30s Gibson HG-00. Folk music doesn’t always sound this good, but this is an album worthy of being heard.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s July. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.