by Ed Peaco
With a year and a half to digest the adventures of Something Gigantic, Brett Miller is bringing out 14 songs under the same title, with three singles rolling out this month. The second single was released on March 18.
He’s releasing the album on Bandcamp, exclusively, until the wide release becomes available on April 6.
Brett and his wife Betsy set out in spring 2017, making a loop into the west and another to the east — 25,000 miles through 44 states — seeking people who they agree with and, more important, who they don’t.
Some folks craving for the long-awaited album may be surprised about the sequence of the components within Something Gigantic.
Many of the songs were written several years ago for Wild Bob Musical’s Book Club.
“The songs guided the trip more than the trip guided the songs,” Brett said. “The ideas that cultivated the songs were already in the drawer. They did a lot to push me out the door.”
For example, the title song, “Something Gigantic,” was written six years ago about the life and death of the daughter of friends. [The] “spirit of that song animated the trip and the idea.”
Brett wrote three songs for the album after the trip:
“Hold” seems to go to the core of what the Millers sought by seeking dialogue along their way:
There’s this thing that I have found
As I’ve traveled all around
There’s good folks in the north and south
If we’ll just shut our mouths
And hear their hearts in pain
We all want to get out of the rain
“Where the Middle Leads” celebrates middles: “a place to stand” and dialogue in the middle as common ground. The piece works through the decision to stay in Springfield after looking elsewhere after the trip, Brett said in notes about this song.
On “This House,” a line in the chorus may be the nadir of the Something Gigantic experiment: “I don’t want to live here any more.” However, as real people, the Millers did choose to continue living here.
“This House” is also one of the songs on which Karl Eggers plays banjo, which for me suggests previous centuries of American struggle brought forward. He has a large impact on the album, playing guitar as well as banjo in a variety of styles.
“He can play the old-timey stuff on the banjo, and he can put on a Stratocaster with a volume pedal and create this ambient sound,” Brett said. “It’s really haunting. I love his versatility to take things in very different directions.”
Others on the album are Barak Hill and Jin J X (guitar), Brandon Moore (drums), Dallas Jones (keys, bass), Molly Healey (violin, cello), Melissa Rea (harmony vocals) and Liz Carney (harmony vocals, acoustic guitar and piano).
Brett’s biggest takeaway from the trip, in a nutshell: People are complicated, politics are not.
“The macro story: I’m more discouraged about our big narrative as a country,” he said.
“I continue to be heartened and encouraged by the micro story. The personal narratives still give me a small glimmer of hope that we can figure this thing out. Sometimes when we stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back. Occasionally there is a glimmer of hope and love in its eyes.”