Steve Millar, or Arms & Hearts as he is known in the music world, is an acoustic folk punk artist from Manchester. I first listened to his 5-track EP Set In Stone last year, upon Colin’s recommendation – if he says ‘You’ll like this.’, he’s probably right. Being greatly influenced by the likes of Brian Fallon, Chuck Ragan and Frank Turner, to name but a few, Arms & Hears certainly is right up my street. So, of course, I was keen to listen to and review his latest 2-track EP, The Jaded Captain.
The first track, Empty Frequency, kicks off with dual guitars. While one guitar sets the tempo with loud strummed chords, and gives the listener something to foot-tap along to, the other plays a softer melody. When Steve’s vocals start up you can’t help but be absorbed in the emotion. ‘It’s nothing like you promised, It’s nothing like you said. It’s all a little jaded, Screaming down an empty frequency.’ It’s a fairly upbeat track and a prime example that ‘acoustic’ doesn’t have to mean quiet and boring! The influences are apparent but that’s not to say that Arms & Hearts doesn’t do a great job himself.
The second track, Troubled Minds, Bloodshot Eyes, starts with one of my favourite folk [punk] instruments – the harmonica – and a little voice in my head yells ‘Yes!’. The song immediately makes me think of Bruce Springsteen – which is never a bad thing. The song is not as fast paced as the first, but is certainly no less heart-felt. In fact, the slowed down tempo and melancholic harmonica that is dispersed throughout the song do an excellent job of tugging on your heartstrings. ‘I just wanna feel something, I just wanna feel something and let it be real.’ I mention melancholy but towards the end of Troubled Minds, Bloodshot Eyes something changes and the mood seems to lift, ending on a more positive note. The song had me hooked on every word and I’d like to think that it does for everyone who listens to it.