Same Soil is David Michael Miller’s second solo album and the follow up to last year’s Poisons Sipped. The sound might be best described as «modern traditional.» With it’s mix of blues, gospel, and soul influences, Same Soil is a celebration of traditional roots styles. The album opens with the acoustic guitar driven riff of «All the Blues to You,» which lays the foundation for the entire album of soulful songs with relatable themes. There is always enough familiarity to make you feel at home and enough twists to keep you interested but this is Same Soil’s second major strength. The first is David Michael Miller’s voice. This man has a command of the human voice that few can match. Dynamically he is always right on the mark without ever sounding like he’s showing off. Every line seems to roll off his tongue with total and complete ease. From the highest, most intense passages to those that are barely spoken; each melodic figure and lyric ooze soul.
David explores songs inspired by Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and Bo Diddley among others. The main riff of the down and dirty «Doing Me In, Doing Me Wrong» references’ «Manish Boy» but takes a more modern turn that would make Muddy proud. «Got Them Blues» is an up tempo gospel blues jam that with more than a nod to Robert Randolph. «Friend of Mine» is a soulful blues ballad with sax and guitar work that are reminiscent of early Tom Waits. When David’s voice comes in with the soul and savvy of Robert Cray and a hint of Al Green, the goosebumps really start. He draws on many influences and styles, yet still sounds very natural and always earthy. This may sound like hyperbole but every track on Same Soil is a total winner. This is one of those rare albums where you aren’t skipping around looking for the good songs. «Just Ride» is great blues rocker. «Shoes To Shine» is dynamite funk/soul number with surprising chord changes and a great solo section with the sax and guitar trading fours.
No review of Same Soil would be complete without mentioning the band hand picked by David to bring the songs to life including keyboardist Jim Ehinger (Bonnie, Raitt, Albert Collins, Billy Vera and The Beaters), saxophonist Jason Moynihan (Buddy Guy) and drummer Carlton Campbell (of The Campbell Brothers). Everyone is giving one hundred percent but no one is «over blowing», They all play to perfectly serve the songs, David’s voice and the rootsy production.
David Michael Miller has the potential to go anywhere and be anything in this business that he wants. He could easily be the next great blues super star ala Robert Cray or Bonnie Raitt. In the mean time we can all groove to Same Soil while we see what the future holds.