Reilly, Miller create contrast
Songs about their grandmothers was the only feature unifying singer-songwriters Megan Reilly and Jeff Miller, who both played at Oberlin last weekend.
Reilly, who played melancholy rock at the ’Sco on Friday night, had a coy, flirtatious stage presence. Her lyrics were poetic and introspective, her guitar strumming casual and meditated and her vocal ability heartful and wide-ranging.
Although Reilly has a well of natural talent as a singer, this ability did not transfer over to her songwriting. The chord structures were similar in each of her songs, creating a lack of melodic variety that made her set age prematurely. While her first song was impressive, she stumbled at the end of the show after repeating it many times over in only slightly differing variations.
She played with hair covering one eye, head back and eyes closed — absorbed in her music and inaccessible to the audience. The whole thing seemed like an act, as if she were not giving herself over to her songs for the purpose of aesthetic auditory value, but for mere effect. With an aloof attitude and drawling voice, she personified the rock ’n’ roll mentality.
Miller, who played at the Cat on Saturday, embodied rock in a very nonconformist, almost Oberlinian manner. Although one of his songs was ironically titled “Trying to Be Cool,” Miller made no such attempt. He shared his affinity for trivia with the audience in between songs by doling out word scrabble puzzles and announcing his approaching audition for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Best described as John Mayer minus the goofy facial expressions, his music is pop rock and upbeat, containing straightforward and simple lyrics sung by a soft and throaty voice. The show centered on Miller’s impressive guitar skills; he used a Boomerang device to record and loop different guitar and vocal patterns, allowing him to create multi-layered songs with much more interest than one simple melody or chord structure.
Although Miller’s music was nothing avant-garde or unique, his talent as a musician made the show enjoyable. His affable personality won the audience over early on, and he kept his songs original by scatting, whistling and even singing softly into the sound hole of his guitar.
While Reilly’s guitar was electric and Miller’s acoustic, her
beverage tea and his water, her cover song “Thin Lizzie” and his
“Keane,” these were only the minor differences between the two
performers. Miller’s music was more clean-cut than what most Oberlin
students would probably prefer, but he took interest in his listeners and played
his genre with skill. On the other hand, Reilly’s resonating voice could
not redeem the monotone nature of her songs and self-projecting attitude.