Texas singer-songwriter Landon Lloyd Miller’s Light Shines Through is a warm and joyous folk rock record that simply spins with wonderful sonic bliss that, from time to time, passes (with hope eternal!) into that dark side of humanity’s moon.
The first song, ‘Light Is Growing’, has a Paul Simon vibe, but then tumbles with a melodic sort of Caribbean pulse, and is the showcase for Landon’s unique late night whiskey weary yet yearning for a better morn vocals that dart over and dance on any lovely ocean’s always cresting waves. And by the way, there’s a swirling organ and a really nice drum sound.
‘Bluebonnet’ is a huge tug at the heart. It’s a brilliant tune that unleashes Landon’s vocal falsetto that sings to the highest pursuit in the human soul. The song, quite simply, swarms with an old fashioned rock slow dance trebly warmth that cuts a snowdrift path between a mellow Jeff Buckley tune and a Bon Iver lovelorn musical soliloquy. And, it also catches the very same passion of Jake Bugg’s first album that touched the battery wires of the Everly Brothers, Bob Dylan (circa ‘Lay Lady Lay’) and Roy Orbison. It’s an absolutely beautiful song that longs with passion for a horizon it can never quite capture on a melodic canvas.
But it comes pretty darn close.
‘String My Love Down’ gets even closer. This is a voice and piano vulnerability that sings without the need for a pop song protective vest.
Then things get wonderfully weird. ‘Sunglasses’ begins with acoustic guitar and a floating choir of voices. But the song gains a really nice pulse rate – with even more of Landon’s heavenly falsetto, while the lyrics get nicely philosophical with the line, “If your god is dead, then why the heavy head?” But as a further explanation, in his press notes, Landon simply says, “I think we all have the ache of being separated from the eternal”.
And, as the poet William Blake once wrote, “But he who kisses the joy as it flies/Lives in eternity’s sunrise”.
My friend, Kilda Defnut, often says, “Eternity is in the backbeat in every great rock ‘n’ roll song”.
That said, the next tune, ‘Feel It Again’ certainly exudes that “joy”. With a mandolin pumped rhythm, the tune catches the casual and jaunty old-time country feel of (the great) Gallagher & Lyle, McGuiness Flint, and ‘Happy Birthday, Ruthy Baby’ fame. A rather nice slide guitar adds a sepia touch; and as the saying goes, a good time is had by all.
The same is true for the absolutely infectious ‘Only Dreaming’ that covers its quick cadence with big horns and a melody that is worthy of an Al Stewart comparison. That’s a big compliment. Once again, the lyrics get philosophical as Landon sings (with more of that warm and joyous folk rock hope) “I know your ache and I know your mind and all those feelings undefined”. This is such a genuine glance back into the very best patched-jeans bearded counter-culture troubadour wisdom of the early 70’s folk coffee house culture. But, a bit of a personal gripe: If the point of a great song (quoting Bob Dylan!) is to “Yes, dance beneath a diamond sky/With one hand waving free”, well this wonderful song’s dance is way too brief as it clocks in just under two minutes. The same is true for the entire album, which lasts for only twenty-five (albeit really nice!) minutes.
That also said, oh my – ‘Landslide’ is a brief harmonica lamented tune in which, once again, Landon’s vocals touch the gorgeous core of blood-pumped pathos in our very human soul. It cuts with a sadly melodic and very naked razor that bleeds with global warming concern.
The final two songs continue with a melodic contemplation that “kisses” Blake’s “joy”, and my friend, Kilda Defnut’s “backbeat”, as ‘Tread Lightly’ floats on a lovely and endlessly enjoyable winsome air that belies its warning of the frailty of life. And then, the title cut, ‘Light Shines Through’, is a voice and piano bare knuckles (with dramatic strings!) tune that confronts on several levels the well known stuff “at the dark end of the street”. The tune stands at the very brink of an abyss and yet manages to sing, “If I were to number my days, I would never wear my dancing shoes”.
Indeed, Light Shines Through passes into that dark side of humanity’s moon. But, thankfully, with Landon’s incredibly soothing voice (and that falsetto!), it never forgets how to “dance with one hand waving free” and, forever and a day, wear those very melodic “dancing shoes”, which in a very human way live on, even today, in the spirit of William Blake’s “eternal sunrise”.
Artist’s website: https://landonlloydmiller.com/
‘Bluebonnet’ – official video: