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Scott Miller and the Commonwealth

Upside Downside

Release Date: 06.10.03
Record label: Sugar Hill
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


Split Personality
by: steven jacobetz

Add one more name to the recent spate of earnest singer-songwriters. Knoxville's Scott Miller and his band the Commonwealth show a lot of promise on this album, Miller's second on his own since his old band, The V-Roys, broke up in 2000.

The album is called Upside Downside because it is grouped into two halves, one consisting of heartland rockers, and the other consisting of acoustic country ditties in true Appalachian style. Miller pulls off both equally well.

The highlights of the rock side begin with the back-to-basics Chuck Berry-influenced barroom punch of "It Didn't Take Too Long." "The Way" is a tender, contemplative ballad which is assisted greatly by the accompanying vocals of Patty Griffin. "Pull Your Load" is another fun blues romp, while "Chill, Relax, Now" follows in the tradition of songs like "Tequila" in which the only vocals are the title words shouted. It may be just filler, but it's a fun, danceable track nonetheless.

The acoustic side kicks off with "Amtrak Crescent," a great track in the time-honored American tradition of the travel song. It's a must for your next train ride. Griffin adds a heavenly touch to "Angels Dwell," while "Ciderville Saturday Night" accents Miller's bluegrass influence. "Red Ball Express" is a soldier's tale of service in World War II which shows off Miller's love of American history. "For Jack Tymon" provides the album's final touch, showcasing Miller alone on guitar and vocals for a tender, heartwarming ballad.

If Scott Miller can find a way to combine his two distinct musical personalities into one cohesive, readily-digestible sound, he'd really have a bright future. Right now, he seems a bit too schizophrenic for mainstream consumption. However, one can easily tell Miller is honest and heartfelt in his songs and won't sell out to corporate control any time soon. So search his music out and let's hope he really does find "the way." 11-Aug-2003 10:24 AM