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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bill Miller

Chronicles of Hope (Cool Springs)

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The latest album by Wisconsin native Bill Miller goes a long way toward countering the marginalization of the American-Indian pop/folk music in which he's been esteemed for more than a quarter-century. Chronicles of Hope delivers a loose song cycle based on Miller's spiritual and cultural struggles. To his credit, he tackles such themes poetically and metaphorically.

The combination of American-Indian flute and drums with folk-rock instrumentation and subtle electronics makes for an organic kind of crossover that doesn't compromise Miller's musical integrity. Flirtations with blues and what could be heard as trip-hop and psychedelia mingle with deft tension and peace amid softer acoustic textures. It all makes for a fine backdrop for Miller's strong tenor, at once serene and piercing.