Scott Miller is a singular kind of singer and songwriter. While that description is frequently bandied about, in Miller’s case, it reflects both his poignancy and purpose, a tact that captures the intimate details of everyday existence and relays them in ways that bring those tearstained sentiments to the fore. His upcoming album, Ladies Auxiliary, is no exception, a series of songs that convey both the sadder and sweeter circumstances that lie within the immediate sphere of Miller’s southern environs. The most touching of those, “Lo Siento Spanishburg, W VA” is a reprise of one of the more popular songs in Miller’s vast repertoire, the tale of a town that’s suddenly rebranded as a retreat for wealthy retirees, while making it unaffordable for the original inhabitants. Along with tender, matter of fact narratives like “Epic Love” and the quiet contemplative “Someday/Sometime,” it affirms Miller’s ability to convey sweet sentiment in an unblemished way -- straight to the point, without pretence, hesitation or any sort of qualification. There’s a singular humility in the way he positions himself and it’s evident in every note he conveys.
Miller’s cast and crew consists of the same Ladies Auxiliary noted in the album title, a support cast that includes longtime musical partner Rayna Gallert as well as Anne McCue, a woman who’s known as a talented artist in her own right. Their supple support gives Miller the perfect platform on which to ply his down home homilies, with all the emotional conviction he’s capable of imbuing. Not that he’s immune to parlaying some folksy humor into the mix. “Mother-In-Law,” one of two covers on the album (the other being a somewhat sobering “With Body and Soul”), and the album’s rabid tongue-in-cheek closer, “Get Along Everybody” suggest that this good old boy can share a good joke when he hears one.
If justice is served, Ladies Auxiliary ought to bring Miller the wider attention he clearly deserves. Four solo albums on, Miller’s made it clear that southern spirit and an elegiac attitude can create a particularly touching combination.