If you can’t get enough of guys like Tyler Childers and Arlo McKinley who define the very heart of the authentic Appalachian sound, then John R. Miller needs to be occupying space in your musical catalog as well, if he isn’t already. Tyler Childers has been one of John R. Miller’s biggest proponents from the beginning, has covered his songs in concert, and calls him “a well-travelled wordsmith mapping out the world he’s seen, three chords at a time.”
First touted here at Saving Country Music when he released his album The Trouble You Follow with his band The Engine Lights in 2018, John R. Miller recently signed with Rounder Records, and will be releasing his debut album on the label called Depreciated on July 16th. Consisting of eleven tracks all written by Miller and produced by Justin Francis and the great guitarist Adam Meisterhans, Depreciated deserves to be slotted near the top of the depth charts of the most anticipated releases in roots music for 2021.
John R. Miller lives in Nashville now, but grew up in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia near the Potomac River, and it very much infers his music. “It’s a haunted place,” he says of the region. “In some ways it’s frozen in time. So much old stuff has lingered there, and its history is still very present.”
Miller started out playing in punk bands in high school, but then began gravitating to something much older. “Not long after a short and aimless attempt at college, I was introduced to old time and traditional fiddle music, particularly around West Virginia, and my whole musical world started to open up,” he says, citing legendary songwriters such as John Prine, Guy Clark, and Townes Van Zandt as songwriting influences, but then sliding in JJ Cale as his biggest influence of all.
For a while John R. Miller toured as a player in such outfits as Fox Hunt, The Hackensaw Boys, Locust Honey, William Matheny’s band, and with others before gaining traction with his own music on the national level.
“I always prioritized being a touring musician above everything, and my attempts at relationships suffered for it,” he says. “I used to go about it by drinking vodka from morning to night for months on end. I shouldn’t have made it this far. I’m lucky, I think.”
Recorded at Sound Emporium’s Studio A in Nashville, the album features the aforementioned Adam Meisterhans on guitar, Russ Pahl on steel guitar, Chloe Edmonstone on fiddle, John Looney on mandolin, Jonathan Beam on bass, John Clay on drums, and Robbie Crowell on keys.
Miller has released a few early singles from the album, including “Shenandoah Shakedown” that can be heard below.
Depreciated Track List:
1. Lookin’ Over My Shoulder
2. Borrowed Time
4. Shenandoah Shakedown
5. Coming Down
6. Old Dance Floor
7. Motor’s Fried
8. Back and Forth
9. What’s Left of the Valley
10. Half Ton Van
11. Fire Dancer