Dub Miller is about as Texan as they come. A former student and corps member at Texas A&M, Dub has entertained many a career path around his musicianship. He’s done everything from working on ranches, on farms, around oil rigs, in John Dickson’s production office and even attended law school for a while.
Yet, it is his music that is quintessentially Texan. Dub pours each of his life experiences and locations into his songs. He’s a modern poet laureate of Texas culture. His lyrics distill the very essence of Texas without being trite, simple or cliche. The pictures he paints with words are so vivid and detailed that you feel like he’s ripped it straight from your memories. Dub’s first full studio album, American Troubadour is one of the finest pieces of Texas Music ever recorded. The Lloyd Maines produced affair features world-class picking from folks like Jeremy Watkins, Matt Skinner and Adam Odor.
The album kicks off with “These Old Boots”, which relates the tale of a pair of worn boots that have traveled many miles of milestones with the narrator to the point that they personify friendship and comfort. “Livin’ On Lonestar Time” is they type of song that would get ripped today for it’s lines about fishing and drinking beer in the good ol’ Lone Star State, but at the time it was fresh. It is precisely the type of song that has been copied to death over the past decade.
As the record nears the middle, the pace slows a tad and the tone becomes introspective with a cover of the Austin Lounge Lizards “Paint Me on Velvet”, closely followed by one of the strongest songs on the album, “Postcard From Paris”. These two tracks sandwich the uptempo “The Dancer” that describes an old man who is the best dancer at the local VFW no matter what style of dance is called for. “Paris” is where Dub puts all his artistic pieces together. His songwriting and singing voice are in sync as he sings about a guy who is fresh out of a relationship but is so afraid to repeat the heartache that he refuses to dance with a beautiful girl he has met from Paris (the real one in France). He begs her, “You don’t want me, try the real dancers…I’m busy right now searching for answers.”
“Nine Miles North of Mason” is a song about a one-armed marijuana farmer on the fringes of the law and the Texas Hill Country. This song typifies the manner in which Dub falls in the pantheon of great Texas songwriters such as Guy Clark and Robert Earl Keen. This character portrait of a frustrated farmer originally from Levelland that resorts to selling weed to survive is crystal clear and with just enough humor to not make the state of Texas agriculture depressing. The album closes with the Skinner-penned “Paying the Fiddler”, the haunting tale of a World War II vet who upon being discharged from the Army in 1945 took on the life of a mercenary. Only now, he’s up in years and looking back at his life with a tinge of regret and a ton of satisfaction.
From start to finish, this is an album that has no filler and can be played from track 1 to track 12. It is a record that is part of the foundation of the latest incarnation of Texas Music. The songs and band members that created this album and toured behind it went on to strongly influence the sounds of Randy Rogers Band and Stoney LaRue among others. Do yourself a favor if you’ve never listened to this album and pick up a copy very soon from our friends at LoneStarMusic.
Dub Miller-American Troubadour at LSM.com