Derek Miller

Dirty Looks

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Guitarist Derek Miller is a great bluesman in the vein of Eric Clapton and Jeff Healey. And while his live shows are incredibly energetic and mesmerizing, this album is a great source of big, brawny blues-rock in the vein of Canadian act Big Sugar. The album opens with the seedy, slinky "Devil Come Down Sunday," which has Miller's chops front and center. It's a great song from start to finish and never falters. From there, Miller opts for a somewhat leaner, linear pop/rock number entitled "Stormy Eyes," which brings the likes of Big Wreck to mind. However, the musician falls into a trap with a stale, run-of-the-mill "Girls!," which adds little to the record. A syrupy, sugary duet with Lucie Idlout on "Ooh La La" works far better and is a vast improvement. When the performer goes with his greatest assets, as is the case with the slower but strong "Ocean (All Night Long)," Miller is at his best, despite not breaking out into the type of loud barroom blues romp he's noted for. This song is also one of the dark horses or sleeper picks of the dozen presented here, and perhaps the only power ballad still showing some snippets of his great guitar work. But Miller ups the ante with the rollicking, George Thorogood-ish stomper "10 000 RPM" and the equally hellacious "Shot o' Cake," which never lets up. However, all of these gems pale compared to the verve and passion he brings to the table during a cover of "Mystery Train (The Lonely Hearts Club)."

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