SCOTT MILLER & THE COMMONWEALTH Citation (Sugar Hill)
A singer-songwriter from Americas deep South, Citation is Scott Millers third album, and, in places, its terrific. Pitched somewhere between Joe Ely and Bruce Springsteen, he plays the kind of straight-laced Americana that has no time, for example, for the experimental shortwave diversions so beloved of the likes of Wilco and Sparklehorse. This is blue-collar country-rock, but imbued with a scope and sensitivity that puts it towards the top of that particular pile. Its no great disadvantage that Citation is produced by Jim Dickinson, the man partially responsible for the mangled sonic honesty of my all-time favourite album, Big Stars Third/Sister Lovers.
You really should listen to Freedoms A Stranger. Miller himself jokingly deflates the inevitable Bryan Adams comparisons by referring to it as Summer Of 89, but in retaking the spirit of Summer Of 69 from stadium excess for the common good, he overturns every AOR/country-rock cliché cars, girls, music etc. - and retools them as things of joy. This feelgood hit of your mid-30s confronts the reality of ending up with car payments and a mortgage, concluding that theres no shame in your destination if its at the end of the road you really want to travel on.
To say that nothing else on Citation matches that magical four minutes is something of a backhanded compliment to Millers songwriting given that included amongst the albums 11 other tracks is a rip-roaring cover of Hawks And Doves, from Neil Youngs Reagan-hugging years. Nevertheless, Still People Are Moving has a moody, dark, swirling undertow, and the sparse, empty closer Long Goodnight drips with evocative images like a whole universe lit by one kitchen light.
Citation is never less than listenable, but it has moments that will reaffirm the most jaded listeners belief in the coursing, redemptive power of loud guitars and unbridled emotion.