Anger is an energy, sang John Lydon, and some righteous fury seems to have jolted Milagro Saints on the Raleigh band's eighth LP, Stranger Times. The record barrels open with "Shadow Man," which inveighs against rapacious fracking companies on personal terms and heaps ire on those who live to exploit the earth.
For a band that often occupies a musical space somewhere between jam-band comfort and folk-rock taste, the song deploys a welcome sense of urgency. A similarly righteous anger—married to a Bo Diddley beat and riveting slide work—animates a fiery cover of Woody Guthrie's "Deportee," written about a 1948 plane crash that killed mostly Mexican migrant workers. With all this talk of walls, the take is all the more powerful.
It's not all gloom. The burnished vocals of romantic shuffle "Heart Painted Red" sounds uncannily like the once-lost legend Rodriguez and his clean Cali pop, lifted by a lilt borrowed from vintage Van Morrison. The blues stomp "Rail Rider" roars with passion, although it sounds as if the lyrics were added only to suit the mood. "Another Country," or what the band terms "cosmic Americana," keys on lovely glints of steel and phased mandolin. With a suitably tipsy groove, the New Orleans tribute "Ruby Moon" ends the LP with an excessive build—righteous energy spent, hair suitably let down, lolling in the fecund source of American musical tradition.
Roots Music Report
Carolina guitarist/vocalist S.D. Ineson is a quite engaging songwriter. And, with the assistance of tasty, diverse roots instrumentation provided by his very capable bandmates, his songs are at the center of a most appealing Americana/jam band mix. “American Radio” definitely deserves to see the light of airplay day. The title track, with its decided aural nod to The Band, also stands out, as do “Blue Guitar” and “Mama Lou”. FIVE STARS!
Heartfelt, funky, and just a little bit trippy in the spirit of Donna The Buffalo. That’s how I’d describe the Milagro Saints’ latest release, Chance & Circumstance. These veterans of the roots music scene have transcended the alt.country crowd they sprang from into band that creates Americana that’s deceptively modern. Whether it’s the mandolin riffs setting a easy going roll or a well timed accordion riff at just the right moment, they know how to pay homage to traditional music without being limited by it. Highlight tracks for me are “Morning Song,” “Evangelyne,” and most of all “Pennsylvania Rose.”
A set that grabs the ear quickly and serves up some instantly memorable tracks.