Written by Jeff Modzelewski
Craig Miller has spent time playing in a variety of projects across various genres over the years. His recent release, A Spark, includes plenty of elements from his history while clearly establishing him in the folk and rockabilly camps. The vocals are lush and often layered, the guitar has a bit of twang without delving into country, and overall the album is well produced and well put together. Possibly too well produced, since the songs tend to fade into the background rather than grabbing the listener and forcing them to pay attention. This does lend to a slickness that puts him over the edge on other artist’s recordings that may not have taken as much time with their production. This polish lends itself to a great album for background listening or road music to soothe your soul.
What Miller does so well on this album is put every piece in place. The various guitars, the occasional addition of horns, everything feels like it’s part of building the song as a whole. There’s no real soloing just for the sake of showing off, and the fills and jams (such as they are) serve to advance the song to what more often than not is its “logical” conclusion. Of course, Miller can certainly shred when he wants, as is evident on the bluegrassy “Biscuits & Coffee” and the lengthy title track.
I think the album could have used a little less polish in places and a little more raw emotion. There’s a lot of good things here, and Miller is solid in everything he’s doing. There’s so much going on with the album with instrumentation and production that builds multiple layers and perspectives to the heart of a story. I think that this is a solid outing, and he definitely has everything in place to put on some good shows in support of this record.