Austin Miller is a south-Floridan folk artist whose new album has just recently hit the web. I was pleasantly surprised by this one, because it is commonplace in folk music for artists to start off weak, gaining strength with time as they release more and more records. Austin Miller got it right pretty early; Foreign Lands is a worthwhile listen for any folk fan, and is a perfect introductory album to the genre. Foreign Lands is purely folk, and it embodies exactly what artists within the genre try to convey: intimate vibes.
The instrumentation in FL is very approving of the folk genre, as you have your acoustic guitar as its centerpiece, a nice dose of banjo, and some other surprises sprinkled in to add a nice touch. There are some songs where there is an obvious focal point on the instruments, like “Revealed” and “Stepping Stones, Broken Bones,” where the music takes the front seat, being noticeably more complex than others. By now you all know how I feel about pedal steel, and Miller scores points with it.
But, like any good folk artist Austin Miller puts the majority of the album’s focus on his lyrics, his storytelling. He does a great job of telling a unique story, while allowing wiggle room to let his listeners make the song their own. Having that skill with songwriting surpasses all musical knowledge and skill within the folk genre; it’s all about the story for us. There are some genres that focus on the playing of instruments, or the quality of a singer’s voice, but that is not the case with folk music. Austin Miller is by no means an amazing vocalist. He is an amazing songwriter.
My one and only discrepancy with this album is that it is very safe. There is nothing that screams out at you for attention. The music in most cases is very safe, and he is very cautious in his singing style. It is a solid album, and well worth the 3.5 stars it’s been given, but if more chances were taken, it could have easily garnered a higher score. It will be interesting to see what Austin Miller gives us next time around.