Valorie Miller is a folk chanteuse sitting in a C&W forte, blending the two very nicely, indeed aggressively, resulting in a CD that dwells comfortably in both genres. Rather than ceaseless western ditties about divorce, prairie dogs, drunknacious trailer park afternoons, and Merv on the telly, she writes a great deal more like Harry Chapin or Jim Croce, even a bit John Stewarty (Carolina Line), though Fire Song is more than a little Gordon Lightfoot-ish with an Edmund Fitzgerald theme. And how can you pass up a cut entitled Sons-a-bitches with it's Volga Boatmen ground rhythm beneath biting lyrics and gritty emotions? Makes the day all the brighter.
The lead cut, after which the CD is named, might be the best illustration of her bi-musical mode, what with its recessed chamber aspects beneath country twang. Then comes the chart-pop refrain furthering the folk lament but not breaking a moment of the intelligence and sensitivity of the track, thus keeping it well away from any moments in the Hit Parader sun (thank Christ!). Following that comes the equally plaintive, but hopeful:
Well, I thought the world had ended
If your gold has ceased to glitter
…a nice way of completely taming the phantasmagoria of mental anguish with the mundanity of the world and life as it must be lived.
In many ways, Miller's injecting an elasticity into the country tradition that almost everyone else misses. There's such a huge potential to that old much-too-cliché form that's needful of the explorations seen in this CD. In a modern world of constantly melding species, this is a venue little contemplated, but the result is here for all to hear. Fire Song, as it turns out, may well be the best example of it all, a moody rocker with slidey guitar, thudding downbeat, tingly mandolin, and growly voice, Miller's sessioned musicians agreeing wholeheartedly, providing an accompaniment charging the borderlines between old and new.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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