This time last year, the Jasper band’s Matthew Jesus Miller and drummer Bill Wood travelled on their own dime, to the west coast to be part of a Native Music Showcase in Victoria, British Columbia. The hard work and ambition behind this band seems limitless with the talent to back it all up.
Rather than clutter the world with more plastic and aluminum based material (or whatever compact disks are made of) Jasper released their latest 5 song EP ‘The Separation’ on February 1, 2014 as a digital download on iTunes and other online music distributors. A deluxe version of the album will be released on a USB key and will include artwork, decals and three bonus tracks. The tireless engine behind Jasper is Six Nations Mohawk singer/songwriter Matthew Miller, cousin to two-time Juno winning Blues-cat Derek Miller.
Jasper is Matt’s third band pulling together sounds and experiences from his previous two bands: The Descendants and Jesus Murphy, which saw 3 different incarnations with 3 different musicians. His musical roots lean towards hard rock and he is a young master in the game. The Separation is is described as a combination of Soul, Blues and Country influenced by the great musicianship found on Six Nations such as The Pappy Johns Blues Band, Tru Rez Crew, Lacey Hill, Robbie Robertson and the list goes on.
If you think the title of the album is an umbrella over a series of heartbreak songs, you’d be wrong. The Separation speaks to the foundation from where the album was created: with co-producer Tim “2oolman” Hill in Manitoba and Miller in Ontario. Using their wits and technology they collaborated via cellphone conversations, texts, BBM messaging and Facebook chats. There is a definite departure from the hard rock sounds of Jesus Murphy and I would say an almost dancey quality to these new songs on ‘Help Me’ and ‘Shimmer’. The power ballad, ‘Powerful Love’ would make a great wedding song or romantic soundtrack to a Valentine’s date. Each track is proof of great songwriting with balanced production. It would be remiss of me not to mention Miller’s dynamic vocals which are both piercing and pleasing. Haudenosaunee inspired singing at its finest.
As I write this review Miller is on his way to Manitoba where he has been selected as one of 18 participants in the 7th Aboriginal Music Program (AMP) Camp. There he will hone his business and artistic skills for one week. Upon returning to Six Nations he will perform at the Great Theatre on the same bill as Anishinabe funny man and CBC podcast host Ryan McMahon on February 18th.