Reviewing “Loveland”: Rick Millward Invites Americana Dreams of Romantic Love with His Latest Release
Released earlier this year, Loveland features Rick Millward playing each of the featured instruments, short the saxophone and steel pedal guitar. Not quite a one-man band, but pretty darn (multi) talented.
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Millward lived in Nashville for years before returning to the west coast. But that Nashville culture remains evident—not only the sound of his music, but how he hosts a concert. His shows often start with signature Nashville, with the singer/songwriter talking about the construction of a song, as well as what inspired them in its creation. Moreover, Millward tours the wineries in the Rogue Valley, often with other artists; again, common to Nashville which mixes-and-matches regional artists in a showcase style, accompanying each other and delighting audiences with this “show and tell” style of performance.
Millward’s latest album Loveland deals with themes of romantic love: both the euphoric rush one longs to experience when true love is found and the bittersweet feelings over “the one that got away.” He weaves folk, pop, and Americana influences into his work, creating an overall “dreamland” mood where the listener can reflect on and learn from their past yet also to instill hope that future romantic pursuits will greatly enhance their life experience.
When I listened to Millward’s voice and his music on Loveland, I couldn’t help but think of certain artists: sometimes Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits; sometimes Roy Orbison; in fact, there were moments the whole damn Traveling Wilburys clan sounded like they were being channeled.
Smack dab in the middle of the album is the hands down lead single, “No Reason.” Not only a great hook and musical production, it also perfectly captures the album’s theme: that of the butterfly feelings one gets at the possibility of blossoming love starting during a chance encounter. Heavy use of back-up vocals works well with this tune that also prominently features lazy cymbals and egg shakers for percussion.
To give the listener variety by not staying on any one tone too long, Millward evenly spaces out the more rough, upbeat tracks “Rockn’ U” and “Dead End Road,” which effectively takes the listener on a slight roller coaster up-and-down journey (just as life has its peaks and valleys).
Smooth transitions occur throughout the work; the only abrupt moment that I would have liked to have smoothed out was the closing of the first track, “Prelude,” a song that set the tone for the record, and ushered me into what was down the road, so instead of a silent gap followed by the start of the next track, I craved this instrumental piece to soar into the second one. A small complaint.
“Dead End Road” is a story-song about a femme fatale that convinces a guy to commit a crime for her, backstabbing him in the end so she doesn’t have to share the fortune he risked his freedom to steal. This tune comes equipped with an awesome steel pedal solo and seductive guest vocals by Nicole Dahl, who not only plays the part of the femme fatale in duet with Millward, but then switches gears to provide back-up vocals that support the protagonist as well.
Incorporating spoken word and an 80s keyboard accent here and there, another notable track was the title track, which is new territory for Millward—and which works well; it is always invigorating when artists go out on a limb and try something new, a direction and a dare I hope Millward continues to do in his work.
Rick Millward will be live at Hummingbird Estate in Central Point on July 30 at 5:30 pm.
The new album “Loveland” may be heard on Spotify and other major streaming platforms.