Singing with a great sense of drama and intensity, Wymond Miles is finally back with a follow-up to 2013’s Cut Yourself Free. Sandwiching more gentle tracks between grand compositions on the beginning and the end of Call By Night, Miles brings his infectious Americana rock to its full potential.
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This is Wymond Miles’ third solo album for the esteemed Sacred Bones (oh and by the way, there is a free label sampler CD included with this record!) and it finds him paring back his sound a little, while he delves back to his youth lived in small working class towns; wide expanses, clear horizons and endless roads were his common environment. Opening the record, ‘Summer Rains’ evokes some clear and potent imagery of much-needed precipitation sprinkling over those dusty plains.
On ‘Protection’ I can sort of see the comparison of Wymond’s voice to a 60s-era Scott Walker make sense. Sort of. The great mainstays of Americana are present and correct on ‘Solomon’s Song’: twangy guitar, bar-room piano, plus a softly played hammond in the background. There’s certainly a dramatic quality to Miles’ voice which enlivens these pieces. He caught and held my attention throughout the title track. ‘Call By Night’ begins with beautifully played and picked acoustic guitar, Wymond’s voice sonorously channeling both Scott Walker and Leonard Cohen this time. The soundscape develops into something quite psych-gothic indeed - Nick Cave style dramatic kettle drum, the toll of a bell and elegiac strings opening up into lush new territory. Often, though, the song structures are sparse and refreshingly uncluttered, allowing dramatic punches to permeate clear from the dust of more traditional stylings.
The subject matter speaks of serious things: the scars of war and its effects on father-son relationships; ‘Divided in Two’ is related through the destructive lens of PTSD, set to a sardonic waltz, with explosive military percussion. Tension is always tangible. This is Miles at his best. It doesn’t always make for easy listening, but there is much to engage the listener emotionally and intellectually as well as musically. There can be no higher praise.
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