CD review: Dominic Miller, November

For the majority of his career, Argentinean-born guitarist Dominic Miller has offered his immense talent in support of other artists. Probably best known as “Sting’s Guitarist”, a title he bears proudly, Miller’s unique sound can also be found intertwined among the work of artists such as Phil Collins, Level 42, The Pretenders, Chris Botti, The Chieftains and even the Backstreet Boys, to name but a few. Even with constant demands on his time and talent, Miller manages to find a few moments for his own solo efforts. His latest CD, November (2010), is his eighth solo release and offers fans a decidedly different side of Dominic Miller.

With November, Miller wiped clean his musical slate and started from scratch. He also made the decision to venture into new territory by renewing his relationship with the electric guitar, eliminating lyrics from the songs and unplugging all of his fancy studio gear. The tunes on this CD were recorded in a matter of days and document Miller’s current position in his musical journey. When asked about his decision to make an instrumental CD, Miller replied “I like the contrast of working, what is arguably, one of the best day jobs in the world and then doing something that is the exact opposite of that, which is just instrumental music.” Whatever his reasons; the result speaks for itself.

November offers eleven tracks of guitar-driving instrumental music, complimented by input from drummer Ian Thomas, bassist Mark King, keyboardist Mike Lindup, pianist Yaron Herman, flautist Dave Heath, sax player Stan Sulzmann and keyboardist Jason Rebello. Although many of the tracks on this CD represent a “first take” recording, flaws are difficult to find. Miller disagrees, preferring to keep the imperfections as part of the song’s personality. “There are actually some mistakes if you wanted to really analyze it, some tuning issues and there’s some tempo issues.” offers Miller “The ProTools generation has just ruined everything, ‘cause everything is like perfect now. Imperfection is what makes something beautiful. It’s the contrast of perfection and imperfection that makes something work.”

As for a genre or accurate pigeonhole for this CD, I’m not sure it would be that simple. November offers exactly the style of music Dominic Miller fans expect, starting off with the nylon string dominated “Solent”. Then, less than a minute into the track, Miller hits the listener with a bit of tasty electric guitar work. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, “W3” kicks off with a hardcore, funk groove reminiscent of Earth, Wind and Fire. Even then, Miller keeps changing up the style by adding in a fusion jazz element to the track. This trend continues throughout the CD, providing a uniquely eclectic personality. My vote for standout track on November would have to be cast for "Marignane", because of its dark tone, attitude and sweet sax solo.

Miller sums up Novemeber best with “One of the rewards of working with so many great artists, like Sting, is that I have the ability to do records like the one I just did, without worrying about sales. I have the luxury of not having to answer to any marketing or anyone else’s expectations. So, really I just do what I like…”. I, for one, am glad that he did.

Rated 4 Stars

Read my complete interview with Dominic Miller

Dominic Miller will perform with Sting in Tampa on July 3rd.