Albums come trundling down the pike with regularity. Occasionally, magic happens. Coming up for quarter-of-a-century ago, Lynn Miles' Philo Records debut Slightly Haunted surfaced. One complete hearing late I reflected, "What a monster collection of songs. If I dare listen to it again, will I still feel the same joyous rush of emotion." Miles' consistent stock-in-trade has been hook-laden melodies, wed to lyrics imbued with her own unique take on melancholy. When the occasion demands her words are spiced with testy humour, delivered by a velvet voice that rises and falls as the lyrics dictate and, from time to time, soars and breaks with classic country music passion.
This Canadian songbird's latest collection We'll Look For Stars is her sixteenth career release. With career longevity, many writers encounter the well has run dry syndrome. No more memorable songs, no need to name names. An exception, Miles has strode across the aforementioned decades with no hint of stumbling. Past gems include I Loved A Cowboy, Unravel, Surrender Dorothy and My Road.
Supported solely by a grand piano, the title song launches We'll Look For Stars. Its focus, fording decades of life encountering [seemingly] constant adjustment - "Our songs will rise and fall, and change their tune"; the words sparkling diamond can be appended to The Saddest Song I Ever Wrote which follows. A tribute to a Bakersfield country legend unfolds in Merle, a finger-picked guitar underpins Old Soul, a warts 'n' all character study - "On every dark road, she's paid the toll," and later, there's the equally frank She Drinks - "Trying to fill the hole in her heart." Main Street, is a paean to rise of corporate commerce and the distressing demise of North America's mon and pop stores. A string quartet introduces the gently paced album closer Because We Love, a reflection upon aspects of the four-letter word in the title.
Following three decades of music writing, I retired my pen five years ago; the urge to compose an album review never crossed my mind, but Miles' latest outing crushed that resolve. I simply had to pitch my two-penny worth. From the opening note to the final fade, We'll Look For Stars delivers eleven memorable original compositions, wrapped in a production that is sympathetic yet robust, and song-by-song complements Lynn's nuanced vocal delivery. No second thoughts, We'll Look For Stars is a Juno winner.
Arthur Wood (Kerrville Kronikles)
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