Hear Meanwhile 4/24

Buy Meanwhile 4/24

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Buzz:

American Songwriter Feature: ‘Meanwhile’

“Outlines a sense of transformation and the uncertainty that comes during transitional times.”

Atwood Review: "Resounds, Triumphs, & Roars"

“Transformation thorough the evolving choruses and intoxicating imagery.

Glide Premiere: "Mixes Personal & Political Anger"

“Milam’s pointed lyrics balance vivid imagery with raw emotion…a potent and soulful rock and roll song.”

Music Defined Review: "The Perfect Album"

Provides a comfort from the pain one usually attains screaming into the void.

Americana Highways Premiere: "Phoenix"

“Milam has crafted songs to get you through the current atmosphere of stress.”

Acoustic Americana: "Epic & Laurel Canyon-esque"

“…raw honesty & vulnerability on this album and it’s powerful stuff. Milam’s best work to date.”

LA On Lock Review: "Meanwhile"

“The track shines with genuine emotion…you can truly connect with these well-written lyrics.”

Memphis Flyer Feature: "Rewards Repeated Listens"

“Now his sophomore album, Meanwhile, due to go live on April 24th, is turning some heads as well.”

Commercial Appeal Item: "Phoenix"

“Fading us out this morning is ‘Phoenix’ from Memphian Chris Milam’s new album Meanwhile.”

The Lyrics (Click to Enlarge)

The Team

Written by: Chris Milam
Produced by: Toby Vest, High/Low Recording
Mixed by: Pete Matthews, High/Low Recording
Mastered by: Matt Qualls
Guitars: Chris Milam
Lead vocals: Chris Milam
Additional vocals: Abbye West Pates, Luke White, & Brandon Kinder
Keys: Rick Steff
Trumpet & flugelhorn: Marc Franklin
Cello: Elen Wroten
Bass: Jake Vest
Drums & percussion: Shawn Zorn
Lead guitar: Steve Selvidge (“In the Blood”)
Noise, effects, odds, ends: Toby Vest

Photo Credits: Lisa Mac Hubbard

Special Thanks:
Robert & Mary Lou Entzminger, Justin Entzminger, Elizabeth Cawein, Cynthia Barnes, Bob & Dena Stoudt. The Hartelusts, Odoms, Whites, Caldwells, Flaums, Brooke Ward, Tyler Mills, The Morrises & Jarretts. Sanjeet & Laura. Logan & Jazzy Miller. Mary Margaret Thomas. The Mitchells, Adams, & Bucks. Our adopted Arkansas family. Milams everywhere. Countless more I’ve thanked privately.

Mark Edgar Stuart, Nick Loss-Eaton, Jackie Jones, Music Export Memphis. Tim & Anita Jackson. Zarina Mason. The Wrotens.

Memphis, Tennessee.

DKDC for letting me crash.

Every single one of you has a hand in these songs. I love you, and I can’t thank you enough.

Dedicated To:
Robert L. Entzminger & Henry L. Entzminger. Like music, with us always.

Meanwhile Playlist: 15 Songs That Influenced the Album

The Story

“I might not make it home, but I’ll make it through the night,” sings Chris Milam on the penultimate track of his new album, Meanwhile (out April 24). It’s a fitting—if ominous—coda for an album that explores the ways we survive periods of transition.

For the Memphis singer-songwriter, and for most of us, the last few years have been a time of seismic transition. Supporting the 2017 release of his critically-acclaimed breakout Kids These Days (“Invites—and earns—the Paul Simon comparisons,” raved American Songwriter), Milam toured across North America and the UK, played festivals and theaters, and collaborated with heroes (e.g. Stax legend William Bell). Musically, things had never been better.

But personally, Milam marked these years by his dad’s losing battle with multiple myeloma (i.e. blood cancer). Diagnosis, remission, relapse, prognosis, hospice, and finally rest. As such, Meanwhile takes death head-on: the personal-as-political anguish of “In the Blood”; the suicidal ideation of “Lonely Living Right”; the playground elegy of “Dogwood Spring.”

More broadly, Meanwhile is an album about loss. Loss of a father, yes, but also a long-term relationship. The album’s first three tracks form an out-of-order love trilogy that establish the album’s themes while breaking the expectation of a simple, linear experience. As he signals: “I can’t steer my story straight.”

Following a serious hand injury, loss even extended to music. “I had nerve damage in my left hand that took nine months to heal,” Milam explains. “In 2017, I played 150 shows. In 2018, I played 2.” What does a musician do when they can’t play music?

“It’s tough, but it’s tough for everyone,” insists Milam, quick to deflect. “There’s a weight in the air. When the world is full of existential dread, palpable dread, how do you just get through the day?”

Meanwhile offers ten perspectives on that question with a sonic warmth and lyrical intimacy befitting an album from 2020 or 1970. From a darkly gorgeous portrait of substance abuse (“Whiskey In The Morning”), to a crack-up-after-break-up (“Crazy From The Outside In”) to cheeky self-satire (“Girl In Every Town”), this album crucially focuses on the exterior by way of the interior. The result is a warm, deeply intimate, open-hearted portrait of a broken psyche.

To achieve it, Milam again enlisted producer Toby Vest & engineer Pete Matthews (High/Low Recording in Memphis), the same duo Milam found a creative kinship with on Kids These Days. A small but stellar crew filled out the arrangements: keys legend Rick Steff (Lucero), guitar hero Steve Selvidge (The Hold Steady), trumpet ace Marc Franklin (Gregg Allman), and Milam’s longtime touring partner, cellist Elen Wroten. More contributions came from High/Low’s literal-and-figurative family of musicians. Milam describes the process as true collaboration:

“I wanted to work quickly. I wanted it to feel like a snapshot, a moment in time. I gave everybody one direction: pretty, unexpected, broken. When we got all the performances, musical threads revealed themselves. Different instruments represented different memories, feelings, even voices in my head. The lyrics have always echoed each other; now the arrangements did, too. Toby and Pete did an amazing job sifting through those sounds and helping me tell the story sonically. Honestly, many folks who were involved had recently lost parents. It shows. I simply couldn’t have made this album with anyone else.”

Depending on the day (or listening order), you can walk away from Meanwhile heavy, empty, haunted or hopeful. Maybe all of the above. That’s ultimately the spirit of the album, and the what’s found in our own personal “meanwhiles”: a life connecting dots.

Holler anytime! I’d love to hear from you.