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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sheri Miller - Winning Hand

Sheri Miller - Winning Hand
2011, Sheri Miller

Sheri Miller made an impact quickly.  Her 2008 debut album, Mantra, spawned an underground hit in "Right Here, Right Now", and earned her recognition as one of Music Connection's 'Hot 100 Unsigned Artists'.  An invitation to join a group called The Delilahs resulted in a major label contract and opportunities to write songs with the likes of J.D. Souther, Jill Sobule, Shawn Mullins and Al Anderson (NRBQ).  Unfortunately the band fell apart, and Miller found herself on her own again.  She did the only thing a songwriter could do; she kept writing and performing.  The result is Miller's sophomore EP, Winning Hand, featuring a top-notch band with members who have played with the likes of Paul Simon, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, David Bowie and Suzanne Vega.  Winning Hand was produced by Kevin Killern (U2, Peter Gabriel), and represents significant growth on the excellent start Miller got off to with Mantra

Winning Hand sets sails with an Americana/pop love song in the form of "Spoons".  It's a brilliant low-key pop tune featuring gorgeous harmonies and a memorable chorus.  This could be a bonafide hit for Miller, and will likely be a winner in the licensing world as well.  "Winning Hand" is a languorous Americana ballad about taking the chance to fall in love.  Miller's melody is winsome, but the overall effect is a touch bland.  "Satellite" has an acoustic southern rock feel that's appealing.  A quiet anthem screaming to have big guitar sound pumped in, the song remains an enjoyable listen even in this stripped down form.  "Everybody Feels This Way Sometimes" seems a bit out of place here.  It's a decent enough tune, but doesn't have the same energy or sense of personality as the other tracks presented here.  Winning Hand winds up with "Hungry For The Truth", a dark rocker about figuring out the meaning of life, no matter the cost.  The song is quietly impressive, sneaking up on you and growing in estimation with each successive listen.  It's probably the most impressive piece of songwriting Sheri Miller has unveiled thus far; showing a much more complex and intricate side to her songwriting psyche than one might expect.

Sheri Miller continues to impress, showing more levels and layers to her lyrics and composition than on the formidable Mantra EP.  The best way to describe Sheri Miller is to say she's a star in waiting.  In the days of major label dominance, Sheri Miller would already have a major record deal, and would be in demand as both a songwriter and performer.  Life is both easier and harder in the post-label era, but Miller's progression as a songwriter in the last three years speaks of wonderful things to come down the road.  Winning Hand has its rough spots, but when Miller is on her game there are few better.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

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