If you’ve written off modern country as nothing but hop-hip beats, longneck beers and dirt roads, you’ve got another thing coming. Namely this debut album by American Idol sensation Alex Miller, the 18-year-old Kentucky native who blew away the audience last year with his deep baritone, downhome mannerand mastery of traditional country styles.
The rollicking leadoff track, “Breaking the Bank,” sounds as though he wrote it at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in Nashville circa 1965. Miller downshifts into ballad territory with his current single, the lovelorn “Through With You,” which spotlights his resonant vocals and his penchant for from-the-heart lyricism.
From there, it’s back into high gear for Miller Time‘s first single, the witty “Don’t Let the Barn Door Hit Ya,” which finds him settling comfortably in the musical universe of George Strait and Asleep at the Wheel. Then Miller doubles down on Texas swing with the witty “The Girls Must Be Clumsy” (“… ‘cause they’re falling for me.”). Along those lines, Miller has included his self-penned “I’m Over You, So Get Over Me,” which left the judges’ jaws hanging at his Idol audition.
It’s not all fun and games though. Miller turns serious as he offers up an aching vocal on the patriotic “Boys in Uniform,” which points out that “Some can only stand there on the side / Salute the flag as it goes by / But they remember / And we remember.”
Then there’s the breakneck pace of the bluegrass favorite “Freeborn Man” that’s been cut by artists as diverse as Tony Rice and Paul Revere & the Raiders, where Miller sounds for all the world like 1980s-era Ricky Skaggs. Finally, you want traditional? Miller serves it up in spades on a cover of the 1951 Hank Sr. gospel number “I’m Gonna Sing,” trading verses with no less than the Oak Ridge Boys.
But simply listing Alex Miller’s influences only sells him short. This is an impressive launch for a young star who has already nailed his own style and sound and made old school as relevant as this morning’s headlines.
Album review written by: Bob Cannon