“You Can’t Tell the Truth” (Single) by Robert Miller
Man plans, God laughs. 2020 in a nutshell. Robert Miller’s single “You Can’t Tell the Truth” features the longtime bandleader, songwriter, and bassist for the band Project Grand Slam, one of the best and most popular bands on both the American and European festival calendar, taking on a new role. His vocals, previously only heard in a backing or harmony role on previous recordings, move front and center with his first solo album Summer of Love and this single is an excellent introduction to a new side of Miller’s gifts. He proves early on that his vocal skills are solid, far from flashy, and possesses the same phrasing prowess as a vocalist that, in part, defines his identity as both a songwriter and musician. He doesn’t simply mimic the instrumental melody as so many infrequent lead singers do but employs his vast experience to notable effect throughout the track.
ROBERT MILLER’S PROJECT GRAND SLAM: https://www.projectgrandslam.com/
Miller co-produced this effort with Lou Holtzman of EastSide Sound NYC and Baden Goyo. The recording process for the release began with the band’s touring plans shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic but Miller refused to lay fallow. Instead, he began writing and recording material in his newly installed home studio. It is not up to this reviewer to say whether he intended this to be his debut as a lead singer, but circumstances did their part forcing him into that role, without question. Holtzman and Goyo brought the home studio tracks up to snuff and added mailed-in parts from Project Grand Slam members as well. Despite the patched together nature of the recording, “You Can’t Tell the Truth” never sounds grafted together. It has a natural and unexpectedly live feel.
Miller is connected to the world around him. He doesn’t name names, he doesn’t have to, but “You Can’t Tell the Truth” will strike a chord with many listeners who have lived, loved, and lost through the last three plus years and the social consciousness at the heart of this lyric never needs to insult or preach to make its point. Miller writes in lean, economical fashion and the words serve the music, vice versa as well, quite nicely. The horns and straight-forward chorus come together nicely too. It has a punchy effect, though never heavy-handed, and drives home the song’s central point with right amount of vigor. The drumming and guitar contributions are important parts of what makes this a successful release, but the keyboard playing deserves a special mention. It has an inspired fire that brings a lot of additional color into the performance.
He isn’t trying to remake the songwriting wheel with this track. There are no progressive flights of musical fancy within its three minutes and ten seconds running time. Miller does what he has always done, work with first-class musicians, and bring his own formidable array of talents to bear on his latest release. It’s a harbinger of great things to come on the Summer of Love release and may open a new chapter in Miller’s long and storied career.