“The Miller Girl” – Steve Hussey & Jake Eddy

4 stars (out of 5)

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the-miller-girl-scrollerLet’s just ease ourselves into 2017 with this little gem of ten superbly crafted songs written by Steve Hussey and arranged by his seventeen-year old collaborator, multi-instrumentalist, Jake Eddy, shall we? I’m not sure if you could call it a concept album, with all the negative baggage that brings, but it certainly follows a narrative, from the person who’s lost and floundering for the first three or four songs, finds his true love, and is redeemed by the album’s tenth song “Sweet”. It’s a simple story economically told and it’s a pretty good way to ease yourself musically into a new year.

The press release describes Jake Eddy as a prodigy and I wouldn’t argue too much with that. At the age of seventeen, he seems to have all manner of musical references at his fingertips from the brooding swamp feel of “Master Your Mind” to the delicate acoustic balladry of “The Miller Girl”, the tipping point of the album where the story transitions from shadow into light. “Into the Ether” could be a seventies rock tune (with banjo neatly replacing lead guitar), while “Better Day” feels like Jim Croce at his best and “Looking for Love” sounds for all the world like Bruce Chanel’s “Hey Baby” with fiddle fills; the multi-instrumental mastery is total.

The album isn’t about breaking new ground, it’s about creating the best art you possibly can with the existing materials and, in those terms it’s a complete success, a minor triumph even. The tunes are memorable, each vocal fits with the melody and the song’s subject matter, and the album takes you on a journey from the depths to the heights. I hope it’s a metaphor for the transition from 2016 into 2017.

Steve and Jake even manage to cook up a bit of fun with “Long List of Goodbyes”, a romp through the failed relationships of the past to lighten the mood before the quest for and acceptance of true happiness gets underway. Only an icy-hearted cynic could be unmoved by the story that unfolds as the album progresses and started life as a set of songs for Steve’s wedding.

“The Miller Girl” is released in the UK on Friday January 13 on Merf Records.