It’s been a long and twisting road that Atlanta singer-guitarist Craig Douglas Miller has travelled over the last 30 years. After attracting some major label attention in the 90’s with his band The Reach, Miller and his bandmates were never able to capitalize on that initial interest, and he entered into a 20-year musical hiatus, working through bouts of clinical depression, writer’s block, and coping by imbibing “perhaps a few too many gin and tonics” as Miller explains. But those echoes never fully left the deeper parts of his head and his heart, and eventually, he found a way for his long-dormant hopes to be realized.
A providential meeting with guitarist Marty Willson-Piper (of The Church, Noctorum, and All About Eve) led to a musical partnership which allowed Miller to bring all those sounds out of hibernation and find ways to adapt them to his current rhythmic proclivities. Willson-Piper took on the role of mentor, guiding Miller as he rebuilt his home studio and began work on the songs which would form the basis of Significance, the debut album under his Blueburst moniker – named for the finish on one of Miller’s favorite guitars.
Looking to the past – Miller is now 50 – he embraces the guitar thump and post-punk verve of the records he grew up listening to in the 80’s, when alternative as more than a rote genre label. “Most of my friends, and a lot of younger people as well, are still listening to the albums we grew up with because there’s a rawness and honesty in that music,” says Miller. “That authenticity is what we’ve aspired to capture [on Significance].”
He lenses themes of regret, joy, and heartache through the prism of his own renewed perspectives – he speaks of seizing opportunities and finding ways in which to leave his mark through cathartic lyrical narratives and incisive musical atmospheres. Aided in these endeavors by drummers Michael Jerome (Better Than Ezra, Richard Thompson) and Brian Platt (The Cads), bassist Ryan Kelly (Dayroom), and vocalist Riley Schatz, Miller and Willson-Pipers develop songs focused on guitars that jangle and shimmer and churn in rippling eddies and branching torrents.
On new single, “Senseless”, Miller brings together Cocteau Twins-style guitars and other indie pop accoutrements before offering a wandering guitar riff that speaks to the histories of the bands he so admires. His voice (do I hear just a tiny bit of young Ozzy there…?) is raw and honest in its declarations, a thing well acquainted with the highs and lows of life’s rambling trails. Spirited and bathed in the adoration of newfound creativities, the track allows him the room to broaden his outlook and develop worlds that aren’t easily characterized and reveal their secrets only after careful consideration. But there is also an element of immediate gratification, as it quickly burrows into your brain, melodies twining into your synapses and cerebral corridors.