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Kiss It Goodbye

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Album Review

Kiss It Goodbye, the third album from Chris Mills, finds the singer/songwriter growing out of the Jay Farrar/Son Volt influences of his debut and into a set of older, wiser, and perhaps more timeless ones. Occasionally, the reference points are a bit too obvious, but mostly, the record proves that Mills can take a set of familiar elements and refashion them like a competent craftsman. With excellent pacing, Kiss It Goodbye breaks up aching pedal steel numbers with mid-tempo rockers. Kicking off the album, the title track is a bolder statement than anything presented on 1996's Nobody's Favorite. It's followed by the heartbreaking "Watch Chain." "I have changed the lock on my heart since you were here" he sings, "Now the key you got will only unlock a box of tears." It's an example of Mills' ability to turn the perfectly balanced country phrase, a play on words twisted for an ounce of empathy. Later, on "Crooked Vein," he quotes Charlie Feathers by way of Elvis, singing "I forgot to remember to forget," adding "I'm gonna stick a straight razor in my crooked vein" (a line of his own). "All You Ever Do" is a Bruce Springsteen/John Cougar Mellencamp-style rocker that also draws on the pair for its subject matter. "Why you gotta hate your hometown honey?" he asks. "Them folks brought you up, but all you ever do is put 'em down." Rather than being a defense, the tone changes as Mills attacks the song's Any Town U.S.A. Indeed, Mills' songwriting voice can accurately be described as a combination of the refined, working-class narratives of Springsteen and the heartache of the best country music. Unfortunately, "All You Ever Do" makes the debt to the Boss too obvious (as does "Borderline"). But it's a forgivable offense for a talented, young songwriter. On Kiss It Goodbye, Mills shows that he is willing to take on his influences while making the assertions that he hopes, one day, to equal them.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Americana singer/songwriter Chris Mills was born an Army brat, spending his formative years living in both the U.S. and Germany; as a teen he settled in southern Illinois, where he was exposed to the groundbreaking insurgent country sound of local heroes Uncle Tupelo. While in high school, Mills also fronted a speed metal band, but in the years to follow his music took an increasingly rootsy turn; upon signing to Chicago indie Sugar Free, he issued his debut EP...
Full Bio
Kiss It Goodbye, Chris Mills
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