Though the saying goes, "Behind every good man is a great woman," Scott Miller is blessed enough to have six such talented ladies in his corner. The founding member of Knoxville, TN-hailing band the V-Roys has a new LP of his own out called Ladies Auxiliary, and the title's apt — all the musicians who accompany him on this album are women. It all began when he was collaborating with guitarist Anne McCue on an early tracking session, an experienced Miller enjoyed so much that he decided to recruit McCue to produce his LP.
McCue helped him gather a roster of dynamic female performers: Bryn Davies (bass), Rayna Gellert (fiddle and banjo), Jen Gunderman (keys), Deanie Richardson (fiddle) and Megan Carchman (drums). Together, they play beautifully on a record that is, by turns, uproariously fun and deeply bittersweet. Examples of the former include "Jacki With an Eye," "Mother-in-Law" and "Get Along," all of which boast hilariously uncouth lyricism and raucous, hoedown-worthy rhythms.
Rayna Gellert's banjo and Deanie Richardson's fiddle playing on these songs are especially engrossing, drawing the listener in and compelling toes to tap in no time. The shamelessly clever insults Miller hurls on "Mother-in-Law" about the elderly lady's dentures are sure to crack you up, while the risqué subject matter of "Jacki With an Eye" makes it a sly thrill to listen to.
While alt-folk fans are sure to enjoy the upbeat numbers here, it's the solemnly introspective tracks that will keep them coming back to Ladies Auxiliary. "Someday/Sometime" is a masterclass in minimalism, the beautiful brevity of its lyrics delivered with enough conviction to leave your heart searing. "Ten Miles Down the Nine Mile Road" is another gorgeous, downtrodden tearjerker, detailing an intoxicatingly dysfunctional romance ("She breathes hot words onto my neck / And scratched me without mercy").
There's a wide range of emotional tones and lyrical themes on Ladies Auxiliary, with plenty of fare for alt-folk fans of every persuasion to dig into with glee. (F.A.Y. Recordings)