Burnt Toast Vinyl
This is as plain and home-spun an album as you’re likely to find these days. Mara Lee Miller sings with a gravelly voice that might be the feminine companion to Tom Waits or Shane McGowan. Her vocals dominate, but there’s an interesting backdrop of slow, methodical country/gospel backing her, along with occasional vocal support from Gina Milligan (piano) and Jeremy Buller (bass and guitar).
Miller’s lyrics are mournful, soulful, and occasionally hopeful. “White Dove” might be a prayer for forgiveness, written in the non-specific Protestant “I’m a sinner, but you don’t get to hear the juicy details” manner. “Went Walking” tells of a wedding, but not the kind that leads to a happily ever after. Given the mournful tenor of the rest of album, she’s living love without romance, lust without satisfaction, and life without joy. It feels like being stuck in a small town, bored and futureless, yet afraid to move into the big city and deal with change. At least in a regular country song, someone gets in a truck and hits the road, hoping for a better life around the bend.