(25 February 2007) Scottish born singer/songwriter Maria Miller has recently released her second album, Just A Little... (Miller / Reeves (UK) MM20061, 2006) as a followup to her 2004 release of Second Hand Charm. Maria formerly performed with bands such as Crannog and Keeba which suited her style of Celtic/Folk based songs. Her current ten track CD was recorded and arranged by Andy Reynolds at the CeolNua Studios in Ireland. This album features her lovely, clear vocals and her music can be described as lyrical acoustic pop with some Celtic undertones.
She trained in piano, guitar and singing which inspired Maria to perform. She traveled around the North of Scotland and performed for a couple of years while accompanied by a fiddler. She joined Crannog in 1997 and remained with them until 2002 through their lineup changes as well as a name change to Keeba.
In 2003 Maria played Celtic Connections, at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, and toured London's acoustic venues, including The Kashmir Klub and The Halfmoon. This was followed by an appearance on the PRS/Songlink stage at the Go North music conference. Maria also supported The Proclaimers on their Scottish tour, appeared at the Stockton International Festival and played The Rainbow Room and The Acoustic Playhouse in Los Angeles.
In 2004, Maria returned to Celtic Connections and then travelled to the US to play acoustic venues in Memphis and Nashville. She then went to London to perform and promote her debut solo CD Second Hand Charm. Maria appeared at Music Works, in Glasgow, and Manchester's In The City Convention in 2005. And, in the summer of 2006, she recorded her current CD.
Just A Little... has a mixture of styles ranging from upbeat tunes to slower and more mellow songs to pop melodies. Maria’s song, "Mischief," has been included on a BBC TV soundtrack and won an award in the UNISONG international songwriting contest. The album begins with the pop-driven "I Don't Want Tommorow To Be Monday." This song highlights the crisp and lovely tones in Maria's vocals. The catchy tune leaves the listener with good vibes. "If You're Happy I'm Happy Too" has a slower, gentler melody. Maria's distinctive enunciation and tender approach elicits an emotive style. The song crescendos into a more forceful ending.
The title track, "Just A Little," has a very whimsical and playful melody. "Stupid Words" moves towards her more serious side and her poignant vocals tug at the heartstrings. Maria says, "I basically want to carve out a long lasting career doing what I love--singing! I don't long to be the most hip act, the best guitarist or sit at the top of the charts. I want to be known for producing music that is identifiable with me. I want to write and sing like me."
"Tuesday's Shoes" has an upbeat quality that is captivating. Rich electric guitar-based arrangements provide a rich foundation for Maria's powerful lead vocal. Her evocative singing is highlighted in "Sad Song." Maria's trademark vibrato adds a lovely texture to the number. This song also has a quirkiness to the melody that makes it a memorable toe-tapper. The Celtic based tune has wonderful fiddle solos by Sarah Bonner. Maria really reaches back to her Scottish roots with this captivating song and her stunning vocals are a standout.
"Someone To Hold" features the Red Shoes Theatre Gospel Choir. The choir is a great backdrop to Maria's amazing and soaring voice. Simple guitar strumming segues into "Arrogant," which also has powerful vocals and expressive fiddling. The last third of the song has an expressive and magnetic flow to the lyrics and music. The final song, "Forgive Me," creates an enchanting atmosphere along with the inviting harmonica accompaniment. Maria's strong vocals stand out in this emotive ballad.
Stunning vocals are the pièce de résistance in Just A Little.... The variety of songs in this CD range from heartfelt ballads to upbeat pop-oriented numbers. Maria's powerful voice attains climactic heights throughout the arrangements and envelops the listener with great intensity. The combination of alluring acoustic guitar, delightful fiddling and lush vocals have generated a delightful album. Purchase the CD it at Maria Miller's website. Just A Little... offers alot.--Audrey Elliot in New York