Blake Mills is a man whose music aches with the cracks of age and heartbreak, and each song he composes is a reflection of being human. The fact that he terms love as a “Curable Disease” is not the affectation of a cynical punk who hates Hallmark cards, but his willingness to look into our haunted psyche. He may yet get the fame he richly deserves as a producer, a collaborator, an artist, but he is forever humble.
Mills speaks about how music comes naturally to him, but turning those melodies into a finished product with lyrics “is more of a hunt, there’s no guarantee of what day or what time it’s gonna come” though it may seem like a put-down, it’s more obvious of the intent and passion Mills puts into his work, he wants his melodies to have an equal match in the meaning of the words, and for that we’re all the more grateful.
You can still find his 2010 debut Break Mirrors on:
A soldier arrives home from Afghanistan to find his lost high school love. Problem is she’s marrying another man, old ghosts of the past linger the town, it’s the perpetual misty fall/winter of New England. Hearts will be mended, hearts will be broken. The envisioned soundtrack.
1. Friends Like Those – Robert Ellis – from Photographs
2. S’posin – Fats Waller – from The Joint Is Jumpin’
3. North Side Girl – JD McPherson – from Signs & Signifiers
4. I’ve Never Found A Girl – Eddie Floyd – from I’ve Never Found A Girl
5. Don’t Tell All Our Friends About Me – Blake Mills – from Honey I’m Home Live Sessions
I’d been searching for a copy of Blake Mills “Don’t Tell All Our Friends About Me” ever since Matt Carr of Everybody Taste stated it “might be the best goddamn country song I’ve ever heard”. You see, Blake Mills is a rare musician these days when it comes to content, a student of quality over quantity. It’s quite amazing that he manages to be both an in-demand session/ touring guitarist (He’s played with the likes of Dawes, Band of Horses, Fiona Apple, Lucinda Williams, Julian Casablancas, and Conor Oberst) and record producer (he’s produced records from Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Dawes, as well as smaller groups like Haim and Jesca Hoop) and so unique in his own songwriting, a hyper-aware conversationalist who can make poignant ballads out of the minutia of everyday life.
Here, in a session for The Wild Honey Pie , his rhythmic and emotive acoustic guitar playing stretch out across the barren ruins of a fruitful relationship. His voice, immediately identifiable with its warbled tenor bears a striking resemblance to when Bob Dylan let his guard down on albums like Nashville Skyline, emotionally resonant and heartbreakingly intimate. You know that he’s writing from the soul when the words “I know I fucked up, I know I fucked up” unfold in their repetition, both as admittance of guilt and an attempt at solace.
His only album Break Mirrors still remains a powerful debut after hundreds of plays, from the family story of “It’ll All Work Out”, the relationship of “Wintersong” which transforms from soul-aching to soul-shaking with its abrupt shift to Fleetwood Mac territory halfway through to the studio mastery of “Hirsoshima” replete with a beautiful slide solo.
Mills is a man of many talents, and if you ever have the chance to see him, don’t miss out.
Find Blake Mills debut Break Mirrorshere on iTunes. For the more vinyl inclined, Analog Edition also has a double A side limited release 7" featuring “Hey Lover” and “Wintersong”, you can grab that here.
I could say that for a man of 24 years, Blake Mills is wise beyond his age. I could say that the guitar work on here is exemplary of what he has to offer the world, filled with warmth and character and more interesting than many guitarists double his age. I could note that this intriguing pick of a cover, “Heart of Mine” from Bob Dylan’s ‘Shot of Love’ period echoes his confidence as a performer.
He may not have all the commercial credit he deserves, but to any artist he’s on the top of their list, from touring mate Lucinda Williams, to Dawes, even Jackson Browne have been proud to share a stage with him.
Chimes of Freedom, the Amnesty International tribute album composed of Bob Dylan songs, could thrive on the strength of this number alone amongst 75 other compositions, and we’re all the better for it.
Check out the free download below
“Heart of Mine” is on the upcoming Amnesty International tribute album, due for release on January 24th