Still Gazing at the Moon
2007 / EverSound
Review by Michael Debbage
What is the measure of John Mills’s success? If you were to measure him quantitatively then his three discs in fourteen years is an utter failure. However, if the measuring stick is quality despite his once in a blue moon showing, then he is an outright genius by taking the time and tenacity over his trade. That said, the slightly adorned “sequel” Still Gazing at the Moon is an utter triumph that will leave you quietly howling at the moon.
While John Mills’ guitar work on Hallowed Moon was sparingly complimented with some very light percussion and strings here and there, this winning format is expanded upon slightly with Still Gazing at the Moon. Lisa Harbor repeats her elegant touches as guest musician on violin and viola but this time around John adorns his compositions with light sprinkles of saxophone, flute, piccolo and tin whistle.
Those of you concerned with Mills trampling his winning formula that he discovered last time around need not be concerned. The album opens with the bare essentials of “Wish” followed by the melancholy of “Left Counting The Stars” that include light string embellishments. In utter contrast, there is the optimistic and invigorating “Joy” with a most memorable melody that will leave a smile on your face and your worries and cares at the door. By this time Mills has you hooked and gently introduces a drop of saxophone to the title, which is a new texture and tone for this mild but inspiring artist. There is also the more percussion driven “Into The Blue” but once again Mills keeps the pastoral and passionate pulse perfectly balanced.
Just prior to closing out the disc with the stark yet sweet “One Small Step”, Mills presents his listeners with his most adventurous composition to date entitled “Facing Into The Sun”. Clocking in close to eleven minutes, the song is divided into three parts. It is here where the additional nuances are the most obvious with the wind instrumentation being the most distinct. Mills even seeks assistance from Lisa Harbor on “Sunrise” Part 3 both as a musician and writer.
It has been over eight years since John took us to his creative moonlit skies. That said, the “sequel” is not a carbon copy of its predecessor. Instead of just a beautiful Hallowed Moon, John stretches his heavenly artistic canopy and adds a few sparkling stars via the additional instrumentation, leaving you Still Gazing at the Moon in awe of its astonishing mystery and wonder.
April 3, 2016
Review by Michael Debbage