Album Review: Tom Faia & Kate Miller
Artist: Tom Faia & Kate Miller
Album Title: Stay Away From The Flame
"Stay Away From The Flame" is the third release from Tom Faia & Kate Miller. Each one is a noticeable progression in their production and songwriting. There is a lot here for the fan of acoustic based Folk and Americana music. As I listen through the album I am reminded of the mid to late 70s soft rock, taking me back to listening to AM radio in my parents car.
The vocals are a wonderful combo of sweet and smoky. Tom Faia’s voice has a natural deep throaty gravel that is complimented perfectly by Kate Miller’s soft touch. All ten tracks are well written, taking the listener on a lyrical journey that only a seasoned songwriter is able to pen. There is patience and wisdom that shines through in the songs that comes with life experience and years of writing music.
Like most music of this genre, this record is deeply based in guitar and vocal harmonies. But they have peppered in subtle percussion and harmonica adding lots of vibe. I hear a harmonica player that has a deep vocabulary, mostly recorded acoustically, but showing some blues chops and driving an amplifier in select spots. Amplifying the harmonica adds a color that flirts with the blues and unexpectedly works perfectly in the context of folk.
The record as a whole has a consistent pleasing flow, but there are of course a few standout tracks. “The Sun Is A Risin” begins with a beautiful nylon string guitar, tactfully laying the musical groundwork in the verses capturing the darkness before dawn, followed by the lift of the chorus that brings the sun rise, shining the light and hope of a new day.
“I Believe In You” is another example of tremendous maturity in composition, with a very memorable hook. Although we never really know who the songwriter is speaking to, I get the sense from the lyric that it’s a note from the experienced to the young or perhaps just the young at heart. Either way, the lead vocal is heartfelt, and the backing vocals are impeccably placed and executed.
This is a recording that captures so many of life’s ups and downs, wrapped up beautifully in ten memorable well produced songs. The vocals are sincere and unforced. Both Tom and Kate are expressive without ever competing for the spotlight, but complimenting one another beautifully. Fans of Gordon Lightfoot, Cat Stevens and the soft side of The Eagles will enjoy this collection. I congratulate Tom and Kate on a great set of new music.
Check out the interview also!
KATE'S ANSWERS Who are your music and non-musical influences? Bruce Springsteen-Jimmy Buffett, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, Moody Blues, Cat Stevens...top of my list,Tom Faia.
What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician? Cat Stevens -Tea for the Tillerman, most music by Cat Stevens What is your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far? I have two. Singing with Tom and creating beautiful harmonies for his music. Being asked to sing with the Phoenix Symphony for a Christmas Concert when I was 17. Favorite performance in my career I have several. Santa Cruz, Abbott Square with Vince (our producer) & Tom at Beer Garden in Camel Valley, it is relaxed and familiar. Private living room performances at Tom's. I love it when people really hear his music and the beautiful stories his songs tell. San Gregorio-singing where so many talented musicians have played. Singing a song I wrote with my three year old grandson about Monsters that Tom and I performed at a Halloween gig. He was there and very proud! Do you feel like you continue to grow musically? I not only feel it, I hear it. One's voice is an instrument, the more you practice the more you accomplish. One of my goals is to create the most beautiful harmonies I can for Tom's songs. When I hear the finished product I'm always amazed, like, did I really do that? If you could play anywhere in the world with anyone in the world, where or with who would it be? On a stage that the whole world would have access to and I would sing with Tom. Our musical partnership creates magic and that's what our world needs. How does music affect you and the world around you? Music is a part of me, like walking, talking, thinking, it completes me. Music is filled with lessons. It is ageless, timeless, does not judge who gets to experience it, offers comfort, joy, inspiration. Music is the perfect definition of unconditional love. It is always there for us. What strengths make you a great singer & do I have any weaknesses? I don't think of myself as a great singer, I just love to sing. I give it my all, and send that love out to our audiences. I feel Tom & I both do this well. I don't really connect weakness to my singing, but I do know that my confidence in my ability to sing rock has grown tremendously. I tell Tommy he has brought out my inner-rocker! Describe your favorite and least favorite part about being a musician. Favorite; That I now have a stage to sing on and a musical partner & producer that believes in me.When I was four my mother's church asked me to sing on Sundays for the congregation. I was put on top of a crate covered by a tablecloth to be tall enough to be seen. I knew at the age of four I had to sing. Knowing that gave me an inner drive to sing everyday until I found my stage. I did not need an audience to fine turn my craft. My least favorite part was the wait. Years passed, I would be asked to sing on different occasions, but I longed for my place in the music world.Tom gave me that place. Do you have anxiety about performing? Do I prefer to record in a studio? I would not label it anxiety, just excitement! Recording is amazing! I don't love it more, but our producer teaches me so much during our sessions about how to use my voice in different ways. It is a very special time. It also demands that I learn a song perfectly. Tell us a fun fact about yourself. As a young child my family lived on a farm. We had a field full of cows which I thought were wonderful. I once watched a movie with a young girl who would yodel and the cows would come running in from the field. I decided that my first job would be to become a professional cow yodeler! I did notice that my mother would tell me to practice in the field and not the house. Ha! What are your interests outside of music? Family, Career, Faith, Nature, Exercise. What is next for your music?
Everything wonderful !
TOM'S ANSWERS Who are your musical and non-musical influences? Mainly early rock n roll and rhythm n blues from the 50s and 60s. What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician? Ray Charles In Person (recorded live at Herndon Stadium in Atlanta in 1959. What song do you remember most from your childhood? Rock Around the Clock by Bill Halely and the Comets 1955. What’s your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far?
Recording Artist with A&M Records. Tell me about your favorite performance in your career.
With Kate and my producer Vince Sanchez on percussion, one Sunday afternoon in Santa Cruz CA in the Abbott Square Market in 2021. Fun fun fun. What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you? Don’t give your publishing away. How has your music changed over the years? From a band to acoustic duo and small production. But mainly adding Kate’s vocals and learning to sing harmony to her lead vocals. Very rewarding and FUN. What inspires you to write the music you write? What made you want to play the instrument you play? Writing is fun when you have a story to tell. I started play when I was 10 because I wanted to make the same fun music I loved to listen to. Do you feel like you are continuing to grow musically? Yes I feel I’m continuing to grow, especially vocally. If you could play anywhere or with anyone in the world, where or with who would it be? I don’t know. I’m glad I’m with Kate. How does music affect you and the world around you? Probably like it does us all...it just affects us. More so than any other art form. If you could change anything about the music industry today, what would it be?
Pay the songwriters!!!! What are your biggest obstacles as a musician? Getting gigs that allow you to perform to an audience that’s there just to listen.
What strengths do you have that you believe make you a great musician? I’m not a great musician. But I play and sing every song from my heart. Audiences pick up on that. Do you have any weaknesses that you're actively working to improve on?
We can always improve. And we do if we practice and work at it. Describe your favorite and or least favorite part about being a musician. My Favorite: The chicks. Just kidding...sort of. The best part is doing it. Playing the music. There’s nothing that makes me higher or feel better than singing a song. Do you have any anxiety about performing live? Do you like to perform or do you prefer to record in a studio?
I have some nervousness at the beginning of a performance. It usually subsides onceI begin singing. I like performing more than studio work. What do you think about online music sharing? Do you ever give your music away for free? Why? Yes I have given music away to audiences but would never give my songs or rights to the songs away to a publisher or record company. Describe your creative process when you write new music. I sit down and start strumming and often record it if it’s feeling good there’s something special about it. Then once I have some music I start on the lyrics. Usually the lyrics start appearing when I’m still working on the melody. Tell us a fun fact about yourself. I’m left handed, highly dyslexic and read very slowly. That’s not much fun though. Other than being a musician, what was your dream job growing up? Are you currently in that same field today?
No dream jobs......Music is what I love most. Give us some advice for new musicians just starting out in the industry. Just do it. Enjoy it. If you have some natural musical talent then you are blessed. So be grateful. What are your interests outside of music? Family, friends, animals, pets, travel, outdoors, having fun. How do you promote your band and shows? Facebook, Instagram, email fliers to our fans. What is the best way to stay updated on current news gigs, releases, etc.? Facebook and our website....although the website is going be updated. Anything you would like to share, from new merch to upcoming shows/tours or songs/albums? Just our new CD. Are you available for private parties? If so, how would someone contact you about booking? Facebook or website What's next for your band? More local shows and gigs and doing what we love: Playing MUSIC!!! : )