Review: Joy Mills Band — ‘Echolocator’

Seattle-based singer songwriter Joy Mills and her band begin their journey together in 2011 and have four albums to their credit. The country and roots quintet have centered their sound around Mill’s ethereal alto lead vocals and inviting songwriting. Their fifth album, Echolocator is set for a January 24, 2020 release. The 10 new tracks find the group pushing new boundaries around their core self described no frills vibe. Mills is backed by Tom Parker on bass and vocals, guitarist Lucian LaMotte along with Mike McDermott on drums and keyboardist Jack Quick. The super smooth new album is a mix of influences from progressive rock and Emo Pop with a little Country twang and West Coast soul; the embodiment of the term “adult album alternative.

The title track opens the set of Echolocator, a bit of soul-searching poetry with a distinct 80s pop feel that begins with a nod to Alex Lifeson from LaMotte’s guitar harmonics. The spacious “Get Out of Town,” makes use of all the bands instrumental and vocal talents on the lilting pop tune. All the edges are super smooth on the languid piano driven ballad “Oxygen.” The alt-country twang returns on the easy-going strummer, “Without Even Asking.” Jack Quick leads the groove with funky Wurlitzer work during the shifting “Stuck in a Rut,” and LaMotte delivers a tasty solo on the southern soul rocker “Favorite Stone.” The breezy beats and swirling sonics of “The Lonely and the Lean, “mask a darker center of introspective songwriting. LaMotte drops sweet high lonesome pedal steel over the sentimental ballad “My One and Only,” to great effect and then channels Mark Knopfler on the dreamy track “The Peace of Things.” The album closes with a sweet song, “Message Of My Love,“ that is equal parts 60s bliss and 80s theatrics, for pure pop indulgence.

It has been nearly three years since the last EP from the Joy Mills Band and the tones broadcast by Echolocator should surely widen the band’s listening audience.

(Check out the title track below via Bandcamp and get more info about Joy Mills Band HERE.)

Rick Bowen

Rick grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan playing in school band, choir and show bands. While earning a BA at Western Michigan University in History and Social Science, he was a member of the Bronco marching band and jazz ensemble Gold Company. Moving to the Northwest in 1994, Rick soon landed gigs and sessions with many diverse local artists and is currently a member of the award winning Stacy Jones Band and the host of the all ages School of Jam. Rick is also an associate producer and session musician for Critical Sun Recordings, a contributing writer at Innocent Words, Seattle Examiner, No Depression, The Washington Blues Society and S.T.E.A.M magazine, and serves on the board of directors for the Washington Blues Society. Rick is endorsed by and plays THUMPER CUSTOM DRUMS. Awards: Washington Blues Society “Best of the Blues” award 2009 Best New Band –Stacy Jones Band WBS “Best of the Blues” award 2012 Best Blues Jam - Oxford Saloon Monday Night Jam 2013 & 2014 WBS Best Blues Writer award. 2014 WBS Chris Leighton Blues Drummer BB Award. Nominations: 2009 & 2013 Best Blues Drummer WBS BB awards. 2012 Best NW recording “No Need To Spell it Out –Stacy Jones Band (Rick J Bowen co producer)

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