By Bill Copeland on April 17, 2012
Tavonna Miller released her CD Peace, Love, And The Lack Thereof late last year and it’s a boiler plate of chunky modern soul rooted in 1970s R&B. Miller possesses a deep, rich timbre and she holds a note with a funky coolness you don’t hear on today’s radio of processed music.
“Whole Lotta Trouble” opens the disc with Miller’s funky cool keyboard work and hip vocal sustains. She holds a note like nobody’s business, each note giving off its sizzle as her rich timbre captures the ear with an understated vibe.
“Somebody Knows” has a bit of Motown flavored R&B/pop. Miller’s vocal approach applies the sweeter timbre and tone like a careful pouring of syrup over waffles. She has a gliding, graceful delivery that finesses the chorus with a light touch from her pipes, expressing the feeling of her lyrics like a much more experienced artist. A songbird, a one woman choir, a pop craftsman, Miller has put together one lively and lovely song.
“That Won’t Be My Story” gets a more assertive vocal approach. Miller struts her stuff, hitting it with perfect timing through twisty lyrics and Cha Young Han’s darting piano lines. Brazilian drummer Mariana Sanchez taps the skins with just a hint of jazz in her pattern.
The breezy, jazzy tune “We Gon’ Make It, Baby” finds Miller cooing and whispery, beautiful vocal tones that take their time riding over Sanchez’s Latin influenced percussion. George Woods applies a tender acoustic guitar picking style as Miller pushes this down tempo number forward with a jazzy spirit she creates seemingly out of thin air. A dreamy quality in its forward motion, Miller also keeps it vibrant and fulsome with her vocal flourishes.
“Making My Rounds” gives Miller a chance to mix pop and R&B again. There are definitely Motown and Alicia Keys influences here. Peppy piano supports bright, clear vocal melody lines that capture the ear and never let go. Miller’s coos and sustains carry this forward with beautiful momentum. You can almost picture her voice as something climbing what was once insurmountable heights. Her voice’s rangy, raspy, righteous timbre keeps reaching, keeps moving, like the mission she’s on in this song, informing everybody she knows about the “lovely man” she’s found.
“My Angel” gets a smooth flowing bass line that kicks it along with funky twists. A pushy piano line gives Miller an invaluable assist through some clever turns in her rhythms. Slyly sophisticated and catchy as hell, “My Angel” can take you to heaven with its unaccompanied chorus. Miller shows what she can do without the musicians, directing things at her own tireless
Miller‘s music is more funkily orchestrated on “Let Me Belong” with horn parts from Sagit Zilberman. Her horns pull this more into pure R&B territory, as does Sara Coffin‘s bass lines and Sanchez‘s adept drumming. This tune is indicative of Miller’s songwriting strengths. She has a lot of sound going on here and she ties it all neatly together under her svelte vocal line.
“Another Me” features Miller tinkling the piano with good technique. Solo, Miller must do a lot more with her voice. Her timbre seems thicker, wider and more expansive here. She carries this one beautifully even though she has no supporting players. Miller just sings this one out with an honest zeal and her personality inside the song makes it a winner and bodes well for Miller’s future in music.
Miller has an exotic melody going on in “I Hate The Way You Hold Me.” The vocalist expresses hurt and disappoint over a bad relationship as an eerie flute melody line captivates the listener while foreboding trouble. Piano work by Cha Young Han of South Korea lays out the exotic, foreboding texture with just the right touch on some minor chords. Guitarist Ellen Angelico picks out assertive tone with her nimble style and her notes linger on dramatically in their undertones. It all adds up to one effective, emotive ensemble piece.
“Right Here Right Now” finds Miller calling for world peace and universal brotherhood and sisterhood. Her anthem is a quiet but steady march, determination being the dominant feeling here. Miller pushes for peace and her assertive stride is graced by her pretty voice, piano and organ notes that ring with spirituality, and a backing chorus made up of 24 of Boston’s best vocalists.
On “Twisted” Miller croons in a peaceful tone and smooth timbre, wrapping her voice warmly and gently around the instrumentation to arrive at an inviting, welcoming tone. The singer adeptly balances the weights in her song, telling a heavy lesson while reflecting from a place of contentment and strength. Her song craft is the structure that holds up waves of guitar phrasing, swirls of organ chords, and a hefty rhythm section.
Miller conjures the love on “Me And My Baby,” her sentimental reflection on her tender mother-infant relationship. It’s a sensible way to end her CD by singing about a new beginning. Miller looks forward to motherhood as her fans look forward to her career composing music and entertaining them with her talent.