Joseph Alton Miller creates wildly fun, folk-inspired songs soaked in feel-good acoustic guitar. This is the kind of music that begs to be played around a campfire, as a summer sun sets through the trees. Maybe I am biased, because I do adore Miller’s style, but I believe his music is noteworthy. As far as genre is concerned, he is on the road less traveled, and we all ought to be grateful for that! It is difficult, in this day and age, to find authentic contemporary folk music, but I believe we have truly found it with this artist.
Songs of Travel for the Vagabond; let the name of the album resonate within your brain for a minute. Have fun with it, as it conjures up images of solo travels through backwoods country, camping next to abandoned train tracks; the delicious aroma of burning firewood roasting through your nostrils. To listen to Miller’s music is to relive wistful memories you did not know you had and it will make you homesick for that ever so important, soul-searching time in your life.
The album is composed of seven beautifully executed songs. Each one is unique and lovely for their own reasons, but all of them are equally as warm and inviting as the other. Not only are the songs superbly charming, the lyrics are something special as well. These are well thought out words, the kind that sound as if they have fallen out of the pages of Miller’s journal.
Like the well-refined menu of a thoughtful restaurant, there is a song on this album for everyone. In the mood for something on the peppier side? Try “Winding Wheel.” It’s light and airy with just the right amount of playfulness. Miller’s voice wafts over a cheerful guitar with sweet lyrics, “So buy a pretty dress and wear it out tonight for anyone you think could out do me. Or better still, be my wagon wheel.”
Want something more obscure? Then “Ballad of a Beauty Maker” is for you. It begins with an eloquently intricate trumpet and careens into a somber guitar with heavier vocals. “Here I am just a castaway…on a desert island of my dreams.” That line gets me every time I listen to it as does the overall pensive attitude of the song. For this reason, it is my favorite on the album. The entire song is very poetic in nature and Miller’s voice bleeds emotion through the dusky acoustics.
If you are in the mood for a classic acoustic, perfectly executed song, then you need to listen to “Dude Where”s My Whiskey?” It is straight out of a movie…or a concert…or out of your head, as you walk a lonesome and relevant road. It begins with lively guitar and old-timey harmonica, and is followed by relatable lyrics, “Well I went running, I couldn’t settle down or settle in,” and “I started drinking so I couldn’t feel the walls decay.”
To listen to Miller’s latest album is not only to listen to the skills of a blatantly experienced artist, it is to hear a finely crafted, intimate story. He weaves the intricacies of his life and wraps his listeners in a blanket of nostalgia, melancholy, happiness, and overall life experiences. One feels incredibly safe when listening to his music.
If you enjoy the genre of contemporary folk, as I do, then I have no doubt in my mind that you will enjoy the album that Miller has so lovingly designed.