Citation [Audio CD] Scott Miller and the Commonwealth

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The third solo album by the former V-Roys frontman combines the storytelling of a Tennessee troubadour with the reckless soul of a diehard rocker. It's been a long time since even Bruce Springsteen has recorded an anthem as Springsteenesque as the opening "Freedom's a Stranger," with a hard-twanging cover of Neil Young's "Hawks and Doves" (timely once again) also showing Miller's affinity for rock classicism. The country romp through "Say Ho" provides an impromptu history lesson on Sam Houston, while the solo acoustic closer, "Long Goodnight," is likely the bleakest lullaby you'll ever hear. Across the range of musical territory that Miller covers, he combines an expressively reedy voice with an eye for significant detail. This project plainly found a kindred spirit in legendary producer Jim Dickinson (patriarch of the North Mississppi Allstars, with sideman credits from the Rolling Stones to Ry Cooder), who has long shown a preference for first-take immediacy and passion over polish. On "Still People Are Moving," the song begins as midtempo ballad and accelerates with the supercharged propulsion of a runaway train. --Don McLeese