Trent Miller lyrically creates a woeful Gothic rich revisionist version of the old west on his latest ode to the unforgiving frontier, ‘Welcome To Inferno Valley’.
His grizzled broody – and slightly Irish burr – atavistic timbre sounds totally at ease singing about a tragic miscreant marauders tale of love, violence, and repentance. It comes as some surprise to find out that our despondent prairie drifting anti-hero is originally from entirely different old country, Italy, and now resides in London – a million miles away from the landscapes he so eloquently alludes to.
Loosely following a story, the albums 12-tracks connect together through a concomitant theme of resigned fate; an unfolding eulogy in fact, narrated by our protagonist as he faces his maker, waiting to die beneath the “gospel oak” (Balled Of The Gospel Oak); poetically explaining how it all came to be.
The opening rustic serenade of Inferno Valley, is a introduction to the troubling tale: Miller runs the gauntlet after mistakenly shooting a lover, instead of his intended rival. From then on, our scorned outlaw is on the run; passing through a Waterboys-esque, Last Chance Motel, and riding along the Dylan sounding, Nowhere Road, all the while dipping back into the painfully cold, romanticized back-story – well, I say romanticized, if that’s how you’d describe songs about murdering your girl and dumping her body in a “mossy sea” (Down In The Valley), and dancing in the pale moonlight with the devil (Witch Trails).
Miller’s equally macabre styled Skeleton Jive band, provide a subtle and delicate framework for the evocative melodies to hang from. A pining violin is used in the manner of a lead guitar, whilst wafts of restrained banjo, 12-string, mandolin and trumpet breath steadily in the background, producing a suitable Gene Clark imbued feel, by way of The Bad Seeds.
Welcome To Inferno Valley is a throwback: a particularly accomplished and soulful one at that. Whilst there’s nothing inherently original here, and there is a dependence on the country-rock of Gram Parsons – Fear Of Flyin’ could be one of his lost nuggets from the Flying Burrito Brothers years – Miller’s expressive and chilled tones have a striking quality, and his tunes prove hauntingly memorable.