Across a string of well-received releases, Blind River Scare has established a wonderful signature sound, one with one foot in the New World, the other in the Old, a sound that ebbs and flows between cool Americana infusions and smart folky sonics, homespun roots sounds and glorious adventure. The Mileage Made is the latest chapter in that genre-balancing, culture blending journey.
Perhaps driven by the fact that Tim Manning, the driving force behind Blind River Scare, is just as often found performing as a solo act as he is leading a full band, the album is often a fairly understated affair, a blend of the ornateness that the ensemble set up allows and the openness and freedom of the troubadour approach. A practical answer to the problem of needing the songs working in both formats or just a naturally reserved, deft and spacious songwriter? Perhaps both? Not that it matters, it is the songs that count and the songs are great.
The title track kicks things off, leaning more towards the glitter of West Nashville than the mud of Cambridge Folk Festival, and it’s a great introduction to what Blind River Scare does, built around coiled and cascading acoustic riffs and driven by unfussy drums, a lean yet punctuating bass, and some wistful and wandering lap steel guitar. At the other extreme is the reflective folk of Driving The Coastline and its tumbling and slightly brooding ways.
Between these two points the album gently sways one way or the other, One Became Many More is an ode to getting carried away with the demon drink (and then finding yourself unceremoniously dumped in a ditch before deciding too it all again) and Drift Along does just that in a gentle and gorgeous fashion.
If you are already aware of Tim Manning and Blind River Scare, then you will love everything about The Mileage Made, a whole batch of fresh-sounding songs and their trademark great narratives. If this is new ground for you then there is lots to love and lots to explore, and then a whole lot of music in the back catalogue to check out also. So why not go and do that now? Go on, I’ll wait right here and you can thank me when you get back.