Ken Millroy – At It Again
10 songs – 26 minutes
Based out of Edison, N.J., Ken Millroy is a multi-instrumentalist who plays an interesting mix of contemporary, original blues on this CD, accompanying himself on electric and 12-string guitar, bass and percussion.
There’s literally no information accompanying this disc other than a listing of songs, and Millroy has virtually no footprint on the internet. But the Jersey native apparently been active on the local music scene for a couple of decades as the alter ego founding member of the four-piece Engaging the Enemy, a “groovy metalcore” band that’s been working out of Edison since forming 2004.
Ken penned all of the material on this CD with another – The Back Porch Tapes, a collection of originals written years ago and given new life during the coronavirus lockdown – scheduled for release in the near future and another – a collaboration with other artists – planned for some time next year.
“Black Cat” opens the action with a loping low-register guitar bass/hook before Millroy launches into lyrics that describe the feline at his window and “tryin’ to get in/And all I’m holdin’/Is an empty bottle of gin.” As Millroy launches into an unhurried, single-note guitar solo mid-tune, you realize the image has deeper meaning – something that becomes apparent as the cat subsequently scratches at his door and then follows him down the road.
“Electric Blues” opens as a ballad with Ken adding keyboard accents created on his six-string aided by pedal effects. His tenor voice is slightly thin, but pleasant throughout as he reflects on the realities of life after growing up believing he’d live happily almost every day. As the truth sets in, the song intensifies aided by a rock-steady drum line and wah-wah effects on the guitar before returning to the root to close.
Millroy’s fingerpicking skills come to the fore for the bare-bones, 86-second instrumental “Just Say You Will” and the sweet, subdued “Willows” before things heat up with “Someone Else’s Blues,” which describes awakening with a pain in the head and what appear to be another person’s troubles – an illusion because the singer subsequently heads to work and learns he’s no longer employed despite possessing several charms to bring good fortune.
The blues-rocker “Here Comes Another” is up next, structured atop a circular guitar hook and mid-tempo shuffle. It’s a song of confrontation and the realization of the importance of not throwing away your life in unworthy pursuits. A quartet of well-crafted instrumentals — “Etown Shuffle,” “The Long Way,” “Back in the Day” and “You and Me” – bring the disc to a close.
Available on Amazon or as a download through Spotify, iTunes and other sites it is also available as a CD by emailing Millroy directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, this one’s a pleasant surprise considering its minimalistic packaging and information. It’ll be interesting to see what Ken Millroy serves up next.