Thursday, May 30 2024

All Hands on Deck’ is the third single from ‘Between Lightning and Thunder’ by Miles East and is instantly compelling and engaging. Not only due to its stark foreboding imagery, but its many underlying supporting musical nuances that prop-up the metaphor to deliver a stirring tour de force; a melodic and infectious pop-rock classic. But let’s pause here and provide a quick overview of what has been and what will be in the melodic world of Miles East.

Much has happened since the release of his debut album, ‘Ghosts of Hope’ in 2016. It was understandably lauded as a “Haunting and Sparkling debut.” Ten songs. Under 40 minutes. Lean. Beautifully produced. Exceptional song-writing, and Miles’ perfect timbre all set against a musical backdrop evoking Counting Crows, Ray LaMontagne and the more reflective elements of Radiohead. It was a wonderful, emotive exploration into the human condition. ‘Learn to Bend,’ ‘Leave It All Behind’ and the country soaked ’The Flight’ are notable personal highlights, but this is a truly timeless album. Good song-writing simply doesn’t age.

It’s taken nearly eight years for its follow-up, ‘Between Lightning and Thunder,’ which is scheduled for release on the 7th June 2024. The first offering from this was 2023s, ‘Better Than Here’; a gentle, bittersweet ballad, with elements of The Beatles, that is spacious enough to occupy Miles’ soaring harmonies and dense enough to convey an ethereal, reflective and dreamy state.  Miles simply doesn’t do ‘fillers.’ It’s something you can dip into time and time again, each time gaining fresh perspective. It’s music that speaks to the soul.

The new album is described by Miles as a “voyage through the dark waters of a relationship in crisis,” and the narratives are loose metaphors to that effect. Miles has a penchant for functional yet evocative imagery throughout his back catalogue and never more so than on his new release. One thing is for sure, they always land with the kind of composed assurance you’d expect from such an accomplished writer.

So, back to the more pressing engagement, ‘All Hands on Deck’, as it were; structurally the song is relatively straightforward. It doesn’t need to be anything else in truth. The narrative is strong enough with clearly defined verses playfully interspersed with bridges and chorus. Very fluid. Very effective. Almost like the song wrote itself and Miles was a conduit. There are some lovely ascending chromatic chord progressions and some good modulations as the song progresses. Everything is as it should be; nice picked guitar hooks and an impressive laid-back drum groove with some ‘liquid’ bass.

In fact, it was the drums and bass that originally caught my attention. They have an almost Stereophonics, ‘Mr. Writer,’ quality to them. That, in essence, was my starting point; stripped back Stereophonics mixed, again, with elements of The Beatles, whilst retaining its own unique and definite identity.

Miles’ vocals performance is controlled, measured and nuanced; excellent harmonies are a consistent feature, sitting together tightly even during varying trills and ornaments. It’s clean and clear, and deeply impressive, but not in a showy way. That seems to be a constant theme here; Miles East is an exceptional songwriter who is working with other exceptional musicians – In Blake Morgan and Justin Goldner – to produce something, you guessed it, exceptional.  

It would be remiss not to credit Blake Morgan for his production and mastering skills with the material from the album released thus far. All of which have been perfectly presented and each possessing sufficient depth, balance and space in the right areas. Superb work, that should ensure that ‘Between Lightning and Thunder’ builds on the success of its impressive forerunner and Miles gains the plaudits and success he richly deserves.

‘All Hands on Deck’, is a beautifully crafted song that, though often dark, offers enough light to illuminate and inspire in equal measure. Choppy waters may be a metaphoric theme, but not for this gem of an artist. When you’re this good it should all be smooth sailing.

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Review

Summary

A truly gifted song-writer; dark, foreboding, but with enough light to elevate this pop-rock song to dizzying heights.
91%
Songwriting At Its Best

Rating

Song Quality
Vocal Performance
Lyrics
Instrumentation
Production

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About Author

Gareth Johnston

Gareth Johnston is a Lancashire based musician and producer who studied music at MMU. He is a former reviewer for 'Glitzine' and when not writing for 'The Indie Grid' can be found restoring old furniture whilst listening to obscure alt-rock. He has too many favourite bands to pick one and insists it's easier to pick a favourite child.

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