Ancient Wisdom Cover 1000px

“Intimate and expansive, the solo debut of New Monsoon’s Jeff Miller is both highly personal and a deeply felt song cycle with universal appeal, a step ahead in the ground broken by the likes of Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges.” -Dennis Cook, Jambase, Relix

“Play every instrument and do all the vocals on a recording, and chances are the resultant music will be a bit too insular. Not so with the solo debut from New Monsoon guitarist Jeff Miller. Miller, who plays and sings almost everything on the CD, has created mostly laid back, sometimes pastoral music that breathes, its cross-cutting guitars, mandolins and basses supporting elegant story songs. The loping ballad “She is Everywhere” is one of several tracks, including “Desolation Summit,” that might remind some of early, folksy Pink Floyd. A couple guests do sneak into the mix — Railroad Earth fiddle player Tim Carbone on the impressionistic “Journey to the Ganges” and singer Danielle Levy on the rambling “Our Arms.” These acoustic-electric textures are heady and appealing.” -Philip Booth, Relix

“Ancient Wisdom” is the first solo album by the West Marin guitarist best known for his work with the jam band New Monsoon. Miller recorded the CD’s 10 original songs in his home studio with, in his words, “bare-bones recording equipment and a cheap mike.” But there’s nothing cheap-sounding about this highly personal song cycle, recorded over an 18-month period, expansive enough to embrace the conception and birth of his son, Skyler, to whom he dedicated the album, and the deaths of three of his friends.”

“Miller wanted the ambience of the San Geronimo Valley woods to creep into this music and it does so to pleasing effect with the sound of rain and thunder as the introduction to the opening song, the ethereal instrumental “Andaman Dream.” He sings in a smooth, relaxed, unaffected style and, inspired by do-it-yourself recording projects by Jeff Buckley, Beck, Neil Young and others, played and recorded most of the instruments on this primarily acoustic effort, including bass, guitars and mandolin. A guitar synthesizer simulated a drum kit on one track, and he grabbed whatever he could find for percussion, including shakers, tambourine and a big ceramic doumbek.”

“Miller got some help from Danielle Levy, who adds harmony vocals to the serene love ballad “Our Arms.” And Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth, a Miller bandmate in the Contribution, weaved Indian-influenced violin threads through the exotic instrumental “Journey to the Ganges.” Like so many master Marin guitarists, Miller has been influenced by the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, and his electric guitar on the tune “Desolation Summit” references Garcia and the Southern rock of the Allman Brothers. On the leisurely rocker “Walk on the Water,” Miller sings, “Lord help those who help themselves today.” He certainly helped his musical cause with “Ancient Wisdom,” an album that is not only inspired, but spiritual as well.” -Paul Liberatore, Marin IJ

Be Sociable, Share!