Sam Millar is probably best known as the pouty mountain of curls playing duelling lead guitar for Manchester-based rock 5-piece Bigfoot (Hard Rock Hell IX). However, Sam is also a prolific songwriter, ghostwriter and professional working musician. Anyone familiar with Millar’s style of writing will be aware that he injects humour, sarcasm, and emotion into each track. and with an interesting take on wordplay, this combination makes for a musical journey with many hidden depths. Holy Sass is his first solo EP release and although quite the departure from his usual sound, this shimmering foray into being a solo artist has the Millar stamp all over it.
5 track EP Holy Sass was self-released in August 2019, with Millar pretty much covering all aspects of each of the songs, and each of the instruments played. From the get-go, track 1 ‘Eyes’ grabs the listener with handclaps and keyboard and a tongue rolling intro which sets up the vibe for the Holy Sass show. ‘Eyes’ is littered with glitter and glam rock riffs. Millar drops in lyrical gems, such as ‘I don’t need your drama this ain’t broadway’ and adds such a flourish with a cheeky little piano full stop to the end. By the close of Eyes, I defy anyone to not be hooked on SASS.
Stomp clap, stomp clap, stomp clap, is always going to be a formula for aural pleasure and when it is followed with guitar and a whistling riff you know ‘Let Me Yet’ is another winner. ‘Cyber Girl’ is Millar in full ‘50s crooner mode and is a beautiful melody that belies its content. Unrequited love on the internet, or, catfish, with Millar’s wordplay, it is often up to the listener as to how you interpret the message. The delivery of both in this case, however, is epic and impressive.
‘Lost In Translation’ and ‘Strangers’ complete this release and are probably the most classic rock tracks on Holy Sass. Stripped down acoustic guitar, emotive, heartfelt vocals and a huge riff that Slash would be proud shred, ‘Lost In Translation’ slows things right down and loses the ‘wall of sound’ feel that Millar has favoured, right until the end of the track when strings flow in and gently carry each of us off the edge of heartbreak. Upon first listen ‘Strangers’ delivers a retro feel with an ‘80s Michael Mann intro and a delectable oohooh backing vocal that feels like a sugary pop song yet, invokes familiarity. Often the key to writing a great song, the ability to make the audience believe that it already belongs to them unites the artist and the listener, and ‘Strangers’ is most certainly the anthem that will have a live crowd in full vocal participation throughout the chorus and beyond.
Although Holy Sass is a step away from his years being the driving force behind Bigfoot, Millar has lost none of his edge standing on his own. Holy Sass is still very much a hard rock release, but it is dripping with glitter, campery, and all of the pomp and circumstance that the title suggests. This EP demonstrates that there are great things to come from Sam Millar. He has cleverly left the listener wanting more and I for one, am eagerly awaiting the next release from camp sass.