Following the dissolution of Knoxville, TN's V-Roys, co-leader Scott Miller wasted no time in moving on to arguably more fertile ground. On Thus Always to Tyrants, he brings the best elements of his previous band (the raucous barroom rock and country kicks) and adds a sense of drama and history, here joined by premier talents like former Arc Angel and John Mellencamp sideman Dave Grissom (guitars) and bluegrass limelight Tim O'Brien (fiddle, vocals). At the centerpiece of the album stand two Civil War ballads penned by Miller himself. "Dear Sarah" is based on a traditional Appalachian ballad and tells the story of a soldier so tired from marching he barely can summon the strength to write his lover back home. In "Highland Country Boy," a man stays behind to watch the farm, only to watch four of his brothers die for the Southern cause. Featuring O'Brien and Miller alone, it marks itself as a slightly less grandiose version of The Band's Virgil Cane of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" fame. On either side of these tunes are a series of simple two-guitar rockers, including "I Made a Mess of This Town" and "Daddy Raised a Boy," that in fact exceed some of the best moments the V-Roys ever had.
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AllMusic Review by John Duffy