Del Scott Miller is the song-writer, guitarist and co-vocalist (along with Sarah Evans) in the band Mynas; one of Barnsley’s most popular bands. Over a number of years and numerous line-up amendments, their Marr-esque guitar parts, unique song structures and never run-of-the-mill lyrical themes have seen their fan base grow year on year. Del has been a core member throughout it all.
In the last two years, he has also been playing guitar in the local folk group Parson’s Lot and has been accompanying the singer Lee England, all while Mynas were recording and releasing their second full length album late last year. However, Del also had this up his sleeve – Lies and Failures, his debut EP.
Opening with the title track, with its fast and intricate finger picked guitar motif that could give Lindsey Buckingham a run for his money, it also features mournful violin from Mynas’ April Lodge. And despite the song’s stripped back sound, the violin is subtle and never overpowers Del and what is an obviously personal lyric, ‘Together we’ll disguise the state we’re in.’
Next up is Apology, which is fleshed out with minimal percussion from Mynas’ Steve Booth and sax courtesy ofThe Tempertons’ Katie Needham. The sax gives the track an upbeat feel – reminiscent of Dave Brubeck’s Time Out, but on a whole, the song more akin to Bookends-era Simon and Garfunkel. In fact, there is a hint of that in Del’s voice too.
Lent has more pace and rhythm, and wouldn’t be out-of-place on the last Mynas album with full band accompaniment. Here it works well as a companion piece to the song that follows, A Pattern Appears, which actually does feature at the end of the second Mynas album, albeit in totally a different guise. There it was a quietly dramatic album highlight. Here, as the violin weaves quietly in and out, softly embracing that sole guitar, it allows the lyric to breath. I thought that this song would have ended up coming over like a Mynas demo, but instead acts as a reprise, and this revisit suits the ‘song’ perfectly. After all, good song is a good song.
The EP closes with Capitulation, a four-minute instrumental which carries on and fades out that musical theme that fuses 60s NYC folk rock and West Coast cafe Jazz. As with everything Del Scott Miller writes, the lyric is at the fore. There is very rarely a conventional verse-chorus-verse, and even when there is a chorus, it doesn’t last or often ends abruptly. A story needs to be told, and when it has been told, there is no need to repeat it ten bloody times hoping for a singalong.
It’s fair to say that Del Scott Miller is a first-rate song writer, and yet with even the most complex song structure or lyric, his everyman voice (he’s always reminded me of Paul Heaton) allows it to stay accessible.
The title of closing track alone suggests the overtly personal nature of this EP. Lyrics such as ‘breaches of trust, we both know I’ve lost’ and ‘dont you dare tell me you’re bored, sat waiting for the man, to pull your cord, and put words in your mouth’ suggests a writer who has a million things on his mind and a need to share. However, this is a laid back record that is going out of its way to please or satisfy no one but the song-writer alone. Yet, in doing so, it ends up being entirely pleasing, totally satisfying and a captiviating insight into the man behind one of my favourite bands. I don’t think the musical tone could have carried a full album mind, and the EP length is just right, with enough to enjoy and mull over and to keep going back for multiple listens. This is a subtle, yet somehow big jump from the Mynas you know and the open-mic Del that throws out the political skits and Paul Weller covers. One of Barnsley’s finest song writers right now.
Del Scott Miller launches his EP at Barnsley’s Old No7 on Friday 28th March.
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