MIRACLE MILE PROFILED: Beauty in search of an audience

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Miracle Mile: Seven Bells (from Alaska, 2003)
MIRACLE MILE PROFILED: Beauty in search of an audience

Some years ago when I was at the Herald yet another CD for review arrived in the post and took its place on the huge pile of "discs to be listened to".

I have no idea why out of the stack of worthies I picked up the album by Miracle Mile laterand played it one night at home when no one was around: but I am glad I did because I was smitten immediately.

The cover had on it "Slow Fade" and "The Miracle Mile" and at the time I wasn't sure which of those was the album title and which the band name.

I did a little subsequent homework and learned that Miracle Mile were essentially the UK singer-songwriter Trevor Jones and Marcus Cliffe (who had played with Emmylou Harris, Daniel Lanois and Steve Earle) with a few others brought in to be the studio and/or live band.

I believed the album had been released in New Zealand (the envelope had long gone) so when space became available I reviewed it showering it in generous praise for its elegant tone, sense of poise and cool, and for Jones' golden vocals. Or something like that.

I learned later the album wasn't available in New Zealand -- I have no idea who sent it to me -- but I hadn't been alone in loving this band: The Times of London said of the same album, "A lovely lowkey collection of sensitive songs" and Q commented on it having so much "quality and heart".

Two years later another Miracle Mile album arrived, the equally beautiful Alaska and if memory serves me well it came direct from Trevor Jones himself who had somehow seen my earlier review.

Since then I have been the happy recipient of the other Miracle Mile albums: Stories We Could Tell in 2004, Glow in 2005, Limbo two years later then in 2008 the gorgeous Coffe and Stars compilation which distilled their gorgeous adult pop onto one too-short album.

If you haven't heard of this duo (plus friends) then you aren't alone: the English Sunday Times said "Miracle Mile's obscurity remains unfathomable".

This has been a running theme in most reviews of their seven albums (the two earliest were Bicycle Thieves in '97 and Candids the following year). Ironically HiFi News once said, "Stupendous. There's a perfection, an attention to detail and sense of craft . . . an act too good for obscurity".

But despite consistent praise -- and reviews comparing them with Crowded House, Aztec Camera and Blue Nile; Mojo saying "Jones must rank as one of our most criminally overlooked songwriters"; and their albums being called everything from enchanting and irresistable to gorgeous -- Miracle Mile remain a band locked away as a private passion for reviewers and the duo's loyal following.

Whether that following is increasing I cannot tell.

But if intelligent, beautifully realised and emotionally engrossing songs are your thing then you cannot afford to let them pass you by any further.

I consider myself very lucky to have unwittingly picked up their album out of many on that particular day and making the time to listen.

Do yourself the same favour.

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