Rian Greene's debut CD earned him a name as a country folkie, and I haven't a clue whether that accolade will carry through to Drown the Miller, but the country element is interestingly sublimated and at the same time obvious enough to waft a distinctly Nashville tang beneath the dominantly Fogelbergy / Jackson Browne-esque milieu set down in a slice of the mid-West heartland ruminating beneath moody skies. The album's title is your first road sign presaging that the pavement'll soon run out, leaving you stranded somewhere between Heartbreak Gulch and Suicide Ridge. This, in other words, is not a party album for dads 'n grads as summer draws on.
The most striking aspect of Drown the Miller resides in the fact that Greene's not all that impressive a lyricist/poet…except that his words take on a completely different life as he sings them. In cold ink, you've read everything here while listening to ten billion failed love and dashed romance tunes over the decades, but that voice of his, neither emotionally stirring nor moribund, has an earthily magical quality to it. Guitarist John Jackson (Dylan, Lucinda Williams) complements that tone beautifully, imbuing the atmospheres first with golden prairie lassitude and then sparks that threaten to light the wheatfields up. His George Harrison slide on Stranger in my Arms is a cool breeze, and the George Terry groove in Fit to be Tied is hypnotic.
Favorite cut? Watch It Burn. Haunting. Reminds me of JP Jones and Bruce Cockburn. Greene co-produced the CD with engineer Tyler Macy and both managed to set the singer's melodic melancholy down with grey-tinted but seductive clarity. Yep, the more I listen to this guy, the more I'm affirmed that he sneaks up on ya. The timing of his presence in the radically shifting country/folk scene couldn't have been more perfect, as all of this reaches back to the 60s and 70s, sitting comfortably in the bygone while crooning of travail and pain. That may not evoke all the syrupy happy-pappy crap on mainstream radio, but I'll take Drown the Miller over it every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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