Review: Sam Millar – ‘Holy Sass EP’

You know those movies where a character who’s been quiet all the way through suddenly opens their mouth for the first time, and out pops a voice so surprising that everyone else stops and turns to stare? That’s what happens within the first few seconds of cranking up ‘Holy Sass’, the debut EP from Bigfoot guitarist Sam Millar. If you have ever encountered the soon-to-be-defunct Wigan rockers, you will know that one of the main selling points is/was the lush vocal harmonies, but who knew that Millar was hiding such a melodic voice?!

You see the words “guitarist” alongside “solo album”, and instantly fear the worst, i.e. an album full of shredding and general widdly-ness that seems to go on for 60 minutes. Fear not, ‘Holy Sass’ features none of these shenanigans. Millar is a flawless guitarist so there are plenty of riffs and solos, but here, the song is king. The end result is a bright and cheery twenty or so minutes, featuring stops at a handful of different genres.

Opening track ‘Eyes’ is a tub-thumping, hand-clapping, foot-stomping, glammed up version of Def Leppard-meets-The Struts. The layered vocals are highly effective and give the track a polished finish, which combined with catchy as hell hooks give the song a fresh, vibrant feel. We might be going to hell in a handcart, but at least we are going singing and dancing.

Expecting this to be followed up by another bombastic; melodic rocker, Millar pulls the rug out from under the feet with the doo-wop intro of ‘Cyber Girl’. The swing from the intro hangs around for most of the song, and when the guitars and piano kick in, it’s easy to find oneself being swept up in the swaying side-to-side motions. It’s not hard to imagine Luke Spiller sitting at the piano in some enormo-dome somewhere, belting this little beauty out while Sam Millar uses $50 dollar bills to light a huge cigar. It has that eccentric quirkiness that the Americans lap up, especially if it comes with a British accent.

Then there is the modern day country rock of ‘Let Me Yet’, kind of like Little Big Town, but only if they played with a Les Paul through a stack of Marshalls. It’s a breezy, summery few minutes, but warning: the song does feature whistling! ‘Lost In Translation’ is an acoustic led heart-on-the-sleeve power ballad, with Millar seizing the moment to peel off some impressive, heartfelt solos. ‘Strangers’ wraps the EP up in a big ’80s inspired bow. The pulsating drum work powers the song along at a steady old pace, with the end result being a rather jaunty little number.

‘Holy Sass’ is a pleasing, genuine surprise, and not many surprises are pleasing these days.

Pick it up from August 30th right here

Review – Dave

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