Like leaves clutched to a gnarled branch from the tree of music as planted by Bob Dylan come Raleigh’s Milagro Saints.Raw as Dylan’s voice, the Milagro Saints aim to rise up at the Down Home in Johnson City on Nov. 16. Led by lead singer SD Ineson, the rock-ing ragamuffins come bearing gifts of new songs and two decades of odes as polished as rust.
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.
Milagro Saints trade in the expansive territory of folk music...TUPELO references the birthplace of Elvis, a spot near the breeding ground for many of the Southern blues and roots rock traditions the Saints freshen and hitch to Ineson's hooks
Its good to have a song called "American Radio" to play on my show!"
WNTI 91.9, Hackettstown NJ
"Tupelo is on my regular playlist- Blind Love Blues is my favorite track!"
Toe-tapping, hook-laden, commercial – without being overtly pop. Hints of Los Lobos, John Hiatt, early Eagles, even Tom Petty – but the distinctive lead vocal avoids direct comparisons. Excellent!"
KDHX 88.1 Concert Review
Six-piece Milagro Saints kicked off with a Tejano-flavored take of Guthrie's "Blowin' Down This Old Dusty Road," the melody rooted in Lee Kirby's piano and Smitty on lap steel. There's a hint of the band's mid-'90s alt-country beginnings lingering in its music, thanks to the density created by such a crowd of musicians. It's a bigger, more groove-filled sound than most folk rock, sometimes veering into jam-band territory.
The Saints interspersed originals among the Guthrie covers like "Pennsylvania Rose" that stay true to their original sound. But it was their Guthrie covers that highlighted their versatility.
a congenial jam-band vibe and the warm-spirited songs of guitarist/vocalist S.D. Ineson make for a set that grabs the ear quickly and serves up some instantly memorable tracks. Ineson's unassuming but always-attractive melodies are buoyed by the Saints richly textured, broad and breezy grooves; the band's three fret-board players meshing masterfully with keyboardist Lee Kirby. The chorus hooks of Gonna Rain Again and These Things "About You" are about as radio-friendly as they get but this is definitely a disc where each song is attention-worthy.
5 STARS *****
Flyin Shoes Review
For me, the best numbers are the more succinct ones, enjoyable as it can be to hear these guys flex their musical muscles. The love song These Things (About You), for example, keeps it sweet and simple, whilst the funky rock of Midnight Flame is catchily enjoyable
"With careful textures and strong melodies, the songs certainly stick on Chance & Circumstance"…environmental call to action "Don't Give It Up" deserves its seven minutes. This activist epic is built on a masterfully solid groove"
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 a 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.
The band bristle with unstoppable energy and collaborative invention