Meredith Miller feels as if she is standing at a crossroads. Her three albums have established her as an acclaimed artist regionally; last year, she was named Best Female Vocalist at the Dallas Observer Music Awards. She and her band perform regularly around Dallas, and she also plays solo gigs throughout Texas. But she’s considering relocation sometime in the foreseeable future.
Miller began playing solo in Dallas in her teens before moving to Austin to attend the University of Texas. Her music caught the attention of Doolittle Records, which in 1992 released her debut Bob, a charming collection of acoustic tunes. Critics praised the album (released under her full name, Meredith Louise Miller) for its simplicity and heartwarming sentiments.
She moved back to Dallas after finishing school and in 1996 released ifihadahifi on independent label Steve Records. Recorded while Miller was still in Austin, ifihadahifi was a more diverse and band-oriented record, featuring electric guitar contributions from Rob Bernard (now with the Damnations) and the fiddle work of Amy Tiven (currently with Kelly Willis).
After returning to Dallas, Miller hooked up with multi-instrumentalist and producer Reed Easterwood. “I’d known about Reed since high school and a mutual friend introduced us,” she recalls. “We started getting together and recording some four-track demos. He had his own band, Junky Southern, but I kind of appropriated them.’”
Earlier this year, Miller released madami’madam on her own label, Binkey (not to be confused with Louisiana label Binky). This time around, the album is credited to the Meredith Miller Band, with Easterwood, bassist Dave Monsey and ex-Tripping Daisy drummer Bryan Wakeland providing seasoned support.
The album is indeed a collaborative effort; Easterwood and Miller co-wrote four of the songs. It has even more of a contemporary rock edge than her past efforts, but Miller’s striking voice remains front and center, if a little less pretty than on her previous records. The material ranges from the countrified “This Time” to the alterna-rock of “A Year And 3 Months” to the psychedelic swirl of “Prince”. The revelation is a cover of Tom Waits’ “San Diego Serenade”, on which Miller becomes a torch singer surrounded by pedal steel and fiddles and makes the song her own.
Though she sings the song’s key line — “Never saw my hometown until I stayed away too long” — passionately, Miller confesses she has rambling on her mind again. “I’d really like to move; I’m thinking after the beginning of 2000, after the dust settles,” she says with a chuckle. “Where to is still up in the air, though.”