Send Me An Angel

Heather Miller

KMG Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret


I don't know what to think of Heather Miller's debut release Send Me An Angel.

On the one hand, her voice is pleasing and she sings with plenty of passion. On the other hand, there's a fair bit of "next big thing" pretension around her - she's pictured liberally throughout the booklet with one guitar or another, but there's no evidence she even plays in the disc credits.

She writes a lot of her own material, but she does so with big name song writers like producers Michael Tait (dcTalk) and former Grammatrain lead singer Pete Stewart, and song doctor John Mandeville.

She's a little bit Dolly Parton and a whole lot Crystal Lewis, ("I'm a little bit country. I'm a little bit rock and roll." Whoa. Bad flashback there for a minute.) with just a dab of Russ Taff thrown in for good measure.

She's a potent mix of blue-eyed soul, acoustic driven pop, R&B, and rock and roll - but from time to time it all sounds more like a contrived mix. And that's what leaves me a little unsettled about the disc.

It is imminently satisfying aurally and lyrically so I'm going to have to work with what I hear, rather than what I feel. It's time to pull out the benefit of the doubt. I think Miller is a rising talent, but it's likely she's being "handled" a little too much, know what I mean?

The three-song start off to this disc, "Angel," "We Will See Him," and "Life To Me," is as good a beginning one could ask for. In the opening rocker, Miller sings about feeling surrounded by God's care in the provision of angels at just the times in her life when she needs them:my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Oh, it's the tide that soothes my soul Oh, when the waves have lost control Oh, it's the light that leads me home Right when I need You too Send me an angel.

Next comes the radio hit, "We Will See Him," which is praise and worship music with a killer beat and a seriously melodic hook. This song is the aural equivalent of oatmeal - it tastes good and sticks with you.

But, then comes the highlight of the disc, "Life To Me," the first ballad. This song shines and shimmers with emotion. Written with Mandeville, "Life..." tells the story of a seeker who's finally found what she's been looking for -- and the feeling of assurance that provides:

Spent all my life trying to find the truth that's in Your eyes Here at last, no turning back. I'm safe in Your arms. You opened the Heavens and set me free. Your love is life to me, you're all my heart desires. You're more than I've ever dreamed. You set this soul on fire.

Miller sings with such sincerity, that it's easy to be drawn into the songs she's singing -- the stories she's telling -- the testimony she's giving.

With more than adequate help from Tait and Stewart (background vocals and instrumental support throughout in addition to producing chores), Miller makes the best use of her new friends - particularly on the almost note-for-note remake of Danny Tate and Danny Wilde's "Winds of Change" from Russ Taff's 1989 album The Way Home and, incidentally, his 1995 country disc, Winds Of Change. Miller takes what is already a great song, and with a little - no, make that a lot - of help from her friends almost makes it her own declaration.

While she's a spot-on match for the song vocally (as are Tait and Stewart in "featured" vocal appearances), Miller seems just a tad young to be singing something so blatantly mature:

The hands of time go round and round. They don't slow down when you lose your way. At every turn, the things you learn, You wear them proud like you wear your name. And as you go on down that road, Don't let the dust get in your eyes. It blows in the winds of change.

That's all true, and Russ Taff certainly knew that when he recorded it in 1989, but Miller's publicity materials indicate she's two years out of college and I'm guessing that puts her right around 24, maybe.

I remember thinking I had all that experience when I was her age too - but I was wrong. The only hands of time that I'd seen go round and round were the ones on my Timex - and I suspect the same of Miller. It's one of those "contrived" moments, but she sure sounds great.

Miller's disc shows a lot of promise. I do find myself listening to it frequently. But, I also find myself wondering what the next one will be like.

Rating: B

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© 2000 Michael Ehret and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of KMG Records, and is used for informational purposes only.