13 songs –54 minutes
Festival-goers are probably most familiar with Scottie Miller thorough his work on the keyboards as a touring member of Grammy winner Ruthie Foster’s band for the past nine years, but he’s also an outstanding singer and songwriter, too, as this intense and incendiary all-original blues-rock effort clearly shows.
A former International Blues Challenge finalist and Minnesota Blues Hall Of Fame inductee with eight previous solo albums to his credit, Miller is a Minneapolis native who attended Boston’s prestigious Berklee College Of Music. As a member of Big John Dickerson’s band, he was invited to play at a memorial service in St. Louis for legendary keyboard player Johnnie Johnson. A chance meeting with Bo Diddley at that event led to an invitation to become a member of what was Diddley’s last touring band. When not working with Foster, he tours the world with his own ensemble.
Despite being a gifted blues player, Scottie’s originals are difficult to peg because they incorporate everything from rock and classical to New Orleans funk, gospel and Latin jazz, too. The mélange of sounds blend together in a powerful stew of emotions that further enhanced here by his equally skilled vocals. His tight, electric backing unit consists of new members Patrick Allen on guitar and Dik Shopteau on bass as well as the familiar Mark O’Day on drums.
Miller uses Wurlitzer or Hammond organ as he delivers a succession of tunes with references to hope and preservation. The funky “Where You Been Hiding?” kicks off the disc as it questions the previous whereabouts of the woman of the singer’s dreams. It introduces the consistent use of rhythm patterns throughout that propel each song intensely as Scottie and Patrick rip and run through their solos. A reggae rhythm drives “Bring It On” as it describes someone who’s coming on “like a shining star.”
The bluesy “Nothing Can Stop Us” details a search for answers to solve ethnic killing as it attempts to find a way to tear down the walls before “Selfish” describes someone who “won’t do what your mama told you/Won’t do what your daddy said” as it drives home the message: What we need is more love. “Keep On Walking,” the first solo to emerge from the disc, is a powerful number with the message: “There are times, when you are hurting/…and the bottom is where you fall/ Well keep on walkin’./Cut through hatred and heavy stones/Heal these wounded, broken bones.”
“Wreckage” starts off as a ballad but evolves into a rocker as it uses seafaring imagery as it seeks salvation from the shards of a damaged relationship. A tasty drum pattern kicks off “Reciprocation” with Miller and O’Day exchanging instrumental phrases before an extended, minor-key number that about the interaction between a band and the audience on one level and between human beings on another that results in emotional healing.
Two blues numbers follow. “Too Far Gone” is an autobiography that includes lessons about the effects of drinking that Miller learned from Big John and Henry Townsend before “Get Some” is a warning that the singer’s had a bad day and is looking for trouble. “I’ve Been Made” comes across with a country feel before the blues-rocker “Walk A Mile” suggests that folks need to stroll in the singer’s shoes before passing judgment about him. The Spanish flavored “Gold Dust” precedes the rocker “Revelation,” about finally being able to find your way after getting help, which concludes the set.
Available through most major outlets, Reciprocation is an excellent effort full of modern, original material. Pick it up today if your taste runs to blues-rock. One warning, though: It’s pretty intense. You might need a nap after its played its course.