Album Reviews

Ben Miller Band – Any Way, Shape Or Form (New West Records)

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ben-miller-band-any-way-shape-or-form-6391Few albums have been more aptly named. North Mississippi Hill Country blues, Appalachian mountain music, bluegrass, or pure country come uniquely together in The Ben Miller Band’s trademark “Ozark stomp”. This trio has been honing their craft for a decade, finally getting a payoff with a “name” label. Despite the higher profile, the band keeps their raw, home-made approach intact. In their own admission, this album does a damn good job of replicating their live sound. Miller says, “We wanted to keep it as live as possible ……we worked long days in the studio for about a month, just playing the songs over and over and working to push our performances and maintain the energy of what we do”.

Much of what makes their sound unique is their use of lo-tech, largely self-built instruments including Miller’s thrift shop guitars and banjos, bassist Scott Leeper’s one-string bass, and Doug Dicharry’s variety of trombone, trumpet, mandolin, electric washboard and electric spoons. “The instruments that we use,” Miller says, “were originally born out of necessity, because we didn’t have any money…we’d wire things together and try things out in different permutations and see where it led us.” The results are mostly exhilarating, from the stomping “The Outsider” to the bluesy “You Don’t Know” to the country ballad “I Feel For You.” Not many bands generate their energy or display such versatility. The music is truly infectious. Catch a live show if you can and start stomping.

– Jim Hynes

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