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ED MILLER - "At Home With The Exiles" - Greentrax CDTRAX089

Question One: Who's based in Austin, Texas, plays acoustic guitar and sings the songs of his homeland in an effortless manner and with a rich, warm voice? Willie Nelson? Wrong! It's Ed Miller.

Ed is originally from Edinburgh but has forsaken a Loanhead state for the Lone Star one, having spent half his life in Texas and the songs on this album are taken from his 3 US releases "Border Background", "Home & Away" and "Scottish Voice", made between 1989 and 1993.

According to Ian Green, on whose Greentrax label this album appears, the idea behind the release is to make Ed's music more accessible and most of the songs will need no introduction to listeners in the UK and Europe.

A first glance at the contents on the CD cover might make you wonder just what fresh, new arrangements he would come up with for standards such as "Yellow on the Broom", "The Jute Mill Song", "A Man's a Man", "Broom o' the Cowden-knowes", "John McLean March" and "Pittenweem Jo".

On listening to the music, however, the truth begins to dawn that these songs - if they're done well - can stand on their own and don't have to be rejigged in any way. And there's no doubt that this album is done well.

As if the combination of that special voice and the sympathetic guitar accompaniment isn't enough, the backing musicians aren't exactly your average scratch band either, including as they do guitar ace Rich Brotherston providing a variety of stringed instruments and Ed's fellow exile Alasdair Fraser playing fiddle on some tracks.

The only non-trad (sounding) song on this album is the title track, written by Ed which he dedicates to the international exiles who have made Austin their home and enriched his life with their humour, friendship and music, on and off the football field. Who knows, in a couple of albums' time Waylon might be deposed and Ed and Willie: The Denis Laws might make their appearance.

In the meantime, these are good songs sung well and can only help to make the voice of Ed Miller more familiar to listeners outside his native and adopted countries. Warmly recommended.

Alan Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 12 of The Living Tradition magazine.