Sometimes a song idea lands softly or inconspicuously, and sometimes it strikes a writer like a bolt of lightning, or in Miles Gannett’s case a string of mid-travel tornadic storms. That’s how Gannett ended up in Meridian, Mississippi, one night on a trip back from visiting his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. “When the weather got bad enough, we decided to pull off to the nearest city to find food and wait out the storm, and the closest city happened to be Meridian.” His pit stop turned to discovery, then to inspiration, and finally to song. “Meridian”—the first track on Gannett’s debut solo album of the same name—paints a waltzing, pedal-steel steeped picture of beauty in disrepair; of a city that was once grand and of the kindness of its current-day residents. Today, Glide Magazine premiered “Meridian,” saying, “Gannett’s warm vocals carry listeners on shimmering waves of pedal steel through various musical landscapes.” Hear “Meridian” now right here and pre-order or pre-save the entire Meridian album ahead of its April 16th release date at this link.
Produced by Gannett and Frank Marchand (Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, We Banjo 3), Meridian is one part country and western, one part bluegrass—members of the Seldom Scene, Fred Travers and Ron Stewart, play all over this record—and one-part roots-rock; seasoned, simmered, and garnished with a dose of psilocybin mushrooms. A pinch of overdriven guitar and a dash of latin percussion in the occasional tune round out a unique, cosmic foundation from which Gannett tells his stories.
“The Lucky Ones” features a jangly lead guitar solo on the instrumental bridge that floats over a lush bed of pedal steel; the music itself creates a palpable sense of nostalgia, a look back to days before the world got just a little too complex. “It’s sort of a nostalgic song,” says Gannett. “It’s about being a kid or a teenager before the internet and technology became so much a focus of our lives.” In “Persuasion,” the narrator tries to persuade his true love who is “promised to another” to run away with him. “I was looking for a title, and my wife was reading Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion; she suggested the title based on its courtship theme and persuasive tone.”
The bluegrass scamper “Spores on Grass” lights off with sprightly fiddle runs that are chased around by skittering banjo and mandolin runs. “It’s a psychedelic bluegrass gospel song,” says Gannett. “I modeled it on Hank Williams’ ‘I Saw the Light’ and the Clancy Brothers’ whiskey songs.” Gannett demonstrates his songwriting depth and breadth in the spacious meditations “Dark Time” and “Maria Sabina.” The latter floats over a Mariachi country river of sound that flows around rivulets of British psychedelic folk. “It’s a tribute to the Mazatec wise woman Maria Sabina, a healer to whom the psychedelic movement owes a great debt; she paid a great price for her kindness to Western seekers of the ‘magic mushroom,’” Gannett says, “and I wanted to share her story.”
Today, Gannett’s music honors the contours of traditional music even as he continues to innovate freely and ingeniously within those contours. “I’m always adding elements that might be considered irreverent or blasphemous. I always try to build on old music, but I am not making museum music.”
The Lucky Ones
Thunder River, Tumbling Down
Let’s Have Each Other for a While
Short Haired Willie
Give and Take
Spores on Grass
Long Burning Bridge