Trent Miller offers a dark and doomy collection of songs on his debut album, Cerberus, released on his own Hangman Records label, but it is definitely an album that grows on you, and repays repeated listens.
Born in Italy but living in London, you hear the odd trace of Miller's Italian accent in his singing (no bad thing, as it makes his voice a touch more distinctive). Curiously, although credited to Trent Miller & The Skeleton Jive, there’s no sign of his backing musicians the Skeleton Jive (violin, bass & drums) on the CD. All fourteen songs are written and performed by Miller, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, harmonica and occasional percussion.
The production has a spartan, home-made feel to it, but the songs are strong. Comparisons made to Pete Doherty, Gram Parsons or Gene Clark in the publicity material seem a little fanciful; the nearest similarity in feel is to that of Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska”. Miller’s songs are quite insidious, and you’ll find them creeping into your head after a couple of listens.
Cerberus is a fitting title, being the multi-headed watchdog in Greek and Roman mythology who guards the gates to Hades, preventing the dead from escaping, and stopping the living getting in. The tone is set on “Bones of Milk”: Everything is rotten here, everything is rotten to the core, and continues on Moon Bog Party - I wish I wasn’t born, Oh Lord forgive me for all the things I’ve done. An upbeat tune and quite jaunty harmonica provides a nice contrast to the sombre lyrics.
“Scream Your Last Scream” is spooky and malevolent, and you’ll believe it when he sings I want to hear you screaming, when you’re screaming your last scream.
Trent Miller is playing a handful of UK dates over the coming weeks to promote this release, and it’s to be hoped more dates will follow soon. He’ll be accompanied by the Skeleton Jive, and it’ll be interesting to hear how they flesh the songs out.