CD: 10 Songs; 52:00 Minutes
Styles: Rock and Blues Rock
In veteran bluesman Big Joe Turner’s hit “Lipstick, Powder and Paint,” he asks a woman: “Is you is, or is you ain’t (someone of negotiable affections)?” When it comes to the sophomore release of Kansas City, Missouri’s Brandon Miller Band, ’is it is, or is it ain’t’ a blues album?
The truth is that about half of its ten original songs can be characterized as such, but the others are clearly rock-and-roll. With that said, this guitarist and vocalist slightly reminiscent of Don Henley is quite popular in his city of choice – especially at a club called The Levee and its Open Blues Jam.
According to his webpage, Brandon’s got numerous tour dates there this fall. He was also excited to be a part of the Kearney Blues Festival this year and a main-stage performer at the Plaza Art Fair. His site’s “Bio” section reads: “Born April 8th, 1990, Brandon grew up listening to classic rock from the 60s and 70s because of his parents’ love for music. Listening to the rock n roll stories of disc jockeys from a famous Kansas City radio station just stirred the fire of his love for music even more.
When he first began elementary school, his older brother had begun playing guitar. Brandon would sneak into his brothers room to grab his guitar just to play around with it.“ With him on “Slow Train” are bassist/vocalist Dylan Reiter, drummer/vocalist Jeff Daniels, and Mike “Shinetop Jr.” Sedovic on keyboards. The following three songs sound the most like the blues, and are worthy of consideration in this e-zine:
Track 03: “Dark Heart of Mine” – With smooth yet unpretentious guitar and classic piano keyboards, this slow burner will entice couples to leave their seats and get on their feet. “When I see you smile, I know it’s true, that love is all around us. It’s because of you. When I look for any other, nobody can compare. Take this dark heart of mine; shine on me,” Brandon pleads. “When you’ve found someone who you care so much about,” he comments in the liner notes, “you don’t want to let that go.”
Track 04: “Can’t Get Enough” – The band’s call-and-response shuffle is a quirky mixture of ‘50’s rock and blues of that era, with the same kind of big band sound. Miller’s fretwork blazes in the middle, and the catchy chorus shall compel live crowds to exercise their vocal cords.
Track 07: “End of the Road” – Heavily influenced by the style of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Miller has put together a bona-fide twelve bar treat. “So roll me away like a wagon wheel. Step in my shoes so you know how I feel,” he tells his leaving lover. “Shinetop, Jr.” Sedovic plays Hammond B3.
Even though Brandon’s vocals are rather flat, considering the emotions he’s trying to convey, “Slow Train” shouldn’t be called a total wreck.