Michigan-based folk troubadour Matthew Milia, best known for his poetic prowess on Frontier Ruckus recordings, releases his debut album Alone at St. Hugo, May 3, 2019 via Sitcom Universe Records.
While there are still bursts of his signature, Americana-laden sound on the new record, this debut unveils Milia’s secret knack for constructing pristine power pop. His soaring harmonies and impeccable chord changes on these fresh tunes will likely satisfy fans of both Big Star and Gram Parsons. Layered in Mellotron, pedal steel, Hammond organ, cello, mandolin, and horns, the textures of this album perfectly match the heavy lyrical content.
Milia’s second single from the new disc, “Congratulations Honey,” is a moody yet shimmering single, and a prime example of the earworms he’s able to create out of old memories. The four minutes of footage, produced for the accompanying music video, was shot on his home turf Detroit, Michigan, and the surrounding metropolitan area. It’s no surprise he chose the Motor City for the backdrop, Milia has written over 100 wistful songs about the city and its suburban landscapes—creating an ever-growing intricate personal mythology based on the area. His stacks of lengthy lyric sheets have always simultaneously painted vivid pictures of domestic minutiae, suburban redundancy and the fragility of family dynamics, and this new disc is no exception. “St. Hugo,” the stimulus for the album’s title, is the Catholic grade school he attended as a child, and from there he rhythmically retells nostalgic episodes from the past. Through rides in the family station wagon to birthday parties at banquet halls, Milia sonically brings you along for the excursion. And, while you’re there, you encounter a varied cast of figures: waitresses, soccer coaches, grandparents, and first loves.
With production help from fellow Michigan musician Ben Collins, Alone at St. Hugo was recorded on a Tascam 388 reel-to-reel tape machine in a tiny Ypsilanti, Michigan spare room, the perfect location for such an intimate record.
Words by Rich Tupica