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Miles Nielson's delicious
pop no cheap trick

Miles Nielson - Miles
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Aug. 11, 2009
Miles Nielson

Review by Tony Bonyata

It's never easy to build a strong, long-lasting music career under the shadow of a famous parent, but Miles Nielson is damning-the-torpedoes with a strong debut effort entitled simply Miles.

Miles' father is Rick Nielson, of the famed Midwestern power pop band Cheap Trick, and while there are slight musical nods to his dad's band, he actually digs deeper to the musical source as he taps into some of the songwriting magic of Lennon and McCartney. In fact, the Rockford, IL-based singer-songwriter even goes so far as to describe his music as "Beatlesque Cosmic Americana," which is actually a pretty good summation of this record, as he pulls in not only the aforementioned Fab Four connection, but also makes reference to American roots music, while also tipping his hat to alt-country pioneer Gram Parsons, who described his own music with The Flying Burrito Brothers as 'Cosmic American Music.'

The album opens with the jaunty pop of "A Festival" and this sunny disposition continues to shine bright on other numbers such as "1938," "Lucy" and the delicious "Hey Hey Hey," which sounds like it could've been penned by John Lennon over a few rounds of Brandy Alexanders during his infamous "lost weekend." While Miles' songcraft seems custom fit for this type of uplifting pop rock - where he effortlessly melds engaging lyrics with strong melodies and sumptuous arrangements - he's also able to take these same attributes and apply them to some of his more introspective numbers that border on rootsy Americana. "Lost My Mind" sounds like a more relaxed early number from Tom Petty with Nielson's warm voice draping over the earthy arrangement, while the introspective piano-led track "Martha," never builds to a crescendo, but rather gently lulls you into a peaceful serenity with the help of a ghostly lap steel guitar. The closing number "The Crown" is yet another one of these unassuming gems that's equally hard to shake with ethereal instrumentation, blissful vocals and a melody that will stay with you long after the CD has ended.

Trying to fill his dad's shoes is, indeed, a difficult task; one that Miles Nielson doesn't seem too concerned with as he confidently walks down his own path on this engaging and immensely satisfying first effort. Whether you're a fan of Americana, Midwestern pop or expertly crafted rock music than this is definitely one promising new artist you'll want to keep your eyes, and ears, on.

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