January 20, 2003
A Million Miles
I'd always thought of Mike
McAdam as a versatile and inventive guitarist,
a guy whose instrumental work with Steve Earle, Foster
& Lloyd, David Wilcox and others helped define the rockin'
country fusion now called "Americana." Apparently,
I was underestimating him.
In between sessions and sideman
gigs, unbeknownst to most of the people who listen to him on
a regular basis, McAdam wrote and recorded an album that should
scare the pants off of some of his employers: If the side dude
is this good, just why do we need the front dude? A Million
Miles starts with the propulsive One Good Day, then just gets
deeper (Right Before Your Eyes), sadder (Paper Thin) and weirder
(the creepy Eden Avenue).
It's a hand-crafted sort
of affair, so the vocals aren't ultra-polished and the songs
don't burst from speakers with the same kind of crackle as could
be heard on an Earle album. And the unremitting "your fault"
sentiments of Thanks a Lot aren't as affecting as the clear-eyed
self-studies that characterize the best of this lot. But A Million
Miles' many charms make it impossible not to recommend.
The melodies are memorable,
the guitar playing — particularly on a slide-dominated version
of The Lion Sleeps Tonight and on the self-penned instrumental
Stratisfaction (I Can't Get No) — is outstanding, and the whole
album maintains a heart-first expressiveness that usually gets
beaten out of veteran Music City pros. This one's not easy to
find (best go online at cdbaby.com, or check the Local section
at Tower Records), but it's well worth the trouble.
Cooper, Staff Writer
or at Plan
9 Records and Tower Records in Richmond, VA