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MP3 Kim Miller - Risk of the Roar

Ethereal but not lost in the clouds, Kim''s music is sensuous, haunting and poetically charged.

12 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Modern Folk, POP: Folky Pop

Kim Miller

Risk of the Roar

Austin-area singer/songwriter Kim Miller used half a dozen different studios, from Nashville to Santa Fe, to record her new album, “Risk of the Roar.” But the physical space she covered to get it done was nothing compared to the space in time it took. Eleven years have flown by since Miller released her debut album, 1996’s “Child of the Big Sky.”

Her explanation for the intermission is simple: “Life intervened. Sometimes we are called off one path for another. But it really doesn’t matter. I made this album because of my diversions.”

Of course, the events themselves were far more than “diversions.” Not long after that album’s release, she chose to put aside her budding music career (which included performing at venues from the Cactus Café to the Kerrville Wine & Music Festival mainstage) to take on “a beautiful responsibility to somebody I loved dearly who needed me.” That was her aging grandmother, whose image as a young girl on horseback graced the cover of Miller’s first album. Then she faced her own health issue: a life-threatening illness from which she has since recovered.

“It startled me into realizing how important it was to return to my music,” Miller says of that experience. “I couldn’t be frozen anymore.” So she cashed in her retirement, rearranged her priorities and took a leap of faith. “Risk of the Roar’s” title song, and thematic center, comes from that courageous plunge. Miller says of the song, “It’s about the risk of reclaiming yourself from a cornered existence, suppressed creativity, expired love… about embracing both the uncertainty and opportunity of that risk.”

The music Miller creates is ethereal, but not lost in the clouds. Her melodies are sensuous, playful, haunting, and laced with stirring detail like the “Last Light” interlude between Nashville player Josh Dubin’s pining pedal steel and Austin/Nashville music vet Cam King’s aching Gretsch guitar. The rich tones of each instrument and the sterling quality of Miller’s voice create lush textures on which she imprints her deeply intimate lyrics. In “I Still Believe,” she sings, “Hope dies hard for fools like me/I always pay a price/So much tragic comedy/It’s my virtue, it’s my vice./OK, I fly but I don’t run/Show me where’s the harm/If I wanna curl up like a question mark/Underneath your arm.”

Immaculately co-produced by Marvin Dykhuis (Tish Hinojosa), Miller and Cam King (Roky Erickson, The Explosives), “Risk of the Roar” features a dozen of Miller’s original compositions, sung in her finely-nuanced voice and supported by a rich ensemble of Austin, Nashville and New Mexico musicians. They include Dykhuis and King, Glenn Fukunaga, Paul Pearcy, Warren Hood, Andrew Hardin, Tammy Rogers, Josh Dubin and Jeff Taylor. Miller traveled to New Mexico to record backing vocals from two of her favorite singer/songwriters: Tommy Elskes and Vince Bell. Mark Hallman mixed and mastered the album at Congress House Studios.

Miller’s own musical influences range from Joni Mitchell (“if Joni had been raised in West Texas,” one critic said), the Finn Brothers and Patty Larkin to Mary Hopkins and Marty Robbins; her non-musical inspirations include poet Pablo Neruda, novelist Gustave Flaubert and famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. (The Gulf Coast-born Miller, a dive master since 1980, used to escort diving tours to some of the world’s most remote and exotic destinations. She once considered a career as a SCUBA instructor before her muse won out.)
“I’ve enjoyed a number of passionate pursuits in my life, but none so fulfilling as writing and singing. It’s a joy to come back to the stage,” says Miller. “When your music is as intimate and revealing as mine, the spotlight can be a risky place. But it’s a rewarding risk”

Just like all the others she took to get here.

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