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LET IT TWANG! CD Review



Chris Mills -- Kiss it Goodbye (Sugar Free).  Until now, I had only a passing familiarity with the music of Chris Mills.  This is the first time I've spent much time with one of his records.  It's Mills' third album for Sugar Free (Chicago indie label) so it comes as no great surprise that Jon Langford is so heavily involved.  I remember reading a letter to the editor of No Depression from an anonymous musician in Chiago complaining that you can't swing a dead cat in Chicago (my metaphor) without hitting Jon Langford...  He's certainly ubiquitous enough to raise an eyebrow, but I've never found his presence to be particularly troubling.   Anyway, this is a review of a Chris Mills record, and the controversial Waco Brother helped produce four of the ten tracks and also did some background vocal work.  Other familiar names singing on this one are Kelly Hogan, Deanna Varagona, and Nora O'Connor.  The most striking aspect of Mills' work is the vicious bite of his songwriting.  The album's first cut, "Brand New Day", with its bright chords and beaming chorus, is an exercise in deception.  Instead of the optimism the title suggests, the lyrics tell the true story ("And the truth isn't helping / So I guess I'll just pay it no mind / I've made up my mind / It's gonna be a brand new day").  The understated pedal steel of Steve Dorocke anchors most of the tracks, especially "Watch Chain", a weeper that describes a jilted lover who hasn't coped well with rejection ("I have changed the locks / on my heart since you were here /...but I wish I'd saved a copy for myself").    In this same vein, see also "Crooked Vein" which takes the next step down the path of the downtrodden.  The record's best cut is "Fall" (as in "from grace" -- one of the Langford co-produced tunes) and it has a great Americana-rock sound, and the usual cutting lyric ("all the junkies in Kentucky / could not write you out of this one / sinner, even God could not save you now").  This record is reminiscent of Ryan Adams' wonderful Heartbreaker, and hopefully Mills' profile will rise as a result.  -TRS

Track listing:

1. Brand New Day
2. Watch Chain
3. Crooked Vein
4. All You Ever Do
5. Tooth and Nail
6. Napkin in a Wine Glass
7. Fall
8. Borderline
9. Lips are Like Poison
10. Signal/Noise


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