- Bryon Harris
In late summer 2017, thirty-something lead singer / guitarist Miles Baltrusaitis now known artistically as Miles Maxwell returned from a songwriting slumber that had lasted close to a decade. The catalyst was a broken heart and a suburban life that was slipping away and the result was nine songs. With a new album ready to be heard, Miles enlisted the help of fellow Williams College football teammate and drummer Matt Stankiewicz and his keyboardist brother Dan. They were all part of the neo soul band My Blue Valentine before it split up. The three agreed to launch the band Miles Maxwell (using Miles’s middle name) and added bassist Steve Kingwell – a veteran of numerous suburban Chicago cover bands. The culmination of this collaboration and the resurrection Miles song-writing brought forth the EP ‘Red Ghost.’
The single and title track off the EP “Red Ghost” will surely please returning fans and attract new audiences looking for engaging, alternative Country. “Red Ghost” opens with a thick and crisp rhythm guitar presenting interesting strumming articulation and melodic fills supported by a nice steady drum beat. The overall all vibe is country-rock with hints of roots and blues. Miles enters singing, “There’s a red ghost that lingers in my mind. The real thing left a while ago and this was what was left behind. Frankly it’s not half as cute because it’s silent and it’s hollow and it’s running from what was done.”
Miles voice is easy-on-ears, down-to-earth, mellow and subdued. His vocal talent tells you that he has arrived at a place where he has nothing to prove and wears his musicianship on his sleeve. He never strains or pushes the melody, instead he opts to hang back giving the song an authentic, genuine performance that serves this genre well. Towards the end, a tasteful guitar solo is added to the mix with emotive perfection. Nice harmonies support the lead in country choir-like fashion. The band is tight and at the same time listeners will enjoy a studio recording that captures a home-grown, live sound.
The term red ghost can have many meanings, but it almost always refers to the heart, love and passion. The “Red Ghost” in this song symbolizes what is left behind even after the memories that haunt you are fading. It explores the timeless questions: “What went wrong? Why? Where do I go from here? "Red Ghost" is the questions that run through your veins. “It’s over now the chapter is done and we return to what was once the life we used to know.” This red ghost has left a trail of victims. Trust is broken. The damage is too much to comprehend. Ultimately "Red Ghost" is about processing the pieces and coming to terms with the past in a way that is redemptive, but doesn’t force a happy ending. “Now I know what it means to lose a friend. The old life don’t look so bad now, I guess I learned that in the end.”
The return of Miles Maxwell is like a phoenix rising. From a place of heartache and chaos, the colors of his music and lyrics have a new life that is energized by a great band. This kind of songwriting can only come from a place of introspection. “Red Ghost” is a genuine performance that perfectly captures what it feels like to be broken and get up again and who can't relate to that?
For more information on Miles Maxwell, visit his website.