I was introduced to Los Angeles singer/songwriter Blake Mills by a stray link from Sondre Lerche praising his guitar skills. Considering Lerche's a talented guitarist in his own right, I was intrigued to say the least. What I found was Mills' carefully worded but effortless lyrical tableaus and a new favorite track in "It'll All Work Out". It was the kind of attention to detail that both made the fact that Mills only possessed a single album released in 2010 both mindboggling and totally logical. Mills makes the kind of music that's a once familiar but all together his own; that no doubt requires a lengthy creative process to achieve such spectacular results.
When news broke that this year would finally see the release of Blake Mills sophomore record I was elated and Mills certainly didn't disappoint, premiering two songs from the album Heigh Ho on the same day. Fitting of their split attentions, Mills two tracks are dramatically different approaches to his natural narrative flair. "Don't Tell Your Friends About Me", which features former tour mate and collaborator Fiona Apple on harmonies and drive-by verses, is the most straightforward and poppy of the Heigh Ho twofer. Mills' narrative bread and butter seems to be relationship strife and Mills' spins an engaging yarn that's at times charmingly saccharine, borderline comedic, but also delightfully sincere.
"If I'm Unworthy" however gets far more mileage out of Mills' guitar prowess than the occasional solo/flourish. A soulful blues-tinged ramble built upon much more experimental guitar techniques. "If I'm Unworthy" is a brilliant counterpoint to the agile popcraft of "Don't Tell Our Friends About Me" both in terms of emotional resonance and by making Mills' years of musicianship (gained as a session musician and member of bands) the song's actual star.
Blake Mills' follow up to 2010's Break Mirrors, Heigh Ho is out September 16th on Verve.