Demons and Angels

Mara Lee Miller's Bosque Brown walks the fine line between darkness and light

After finishing her recording, Miller returned to Denton and assembled a band to play the songs live. Her sister and husband joined first, with Gina playing piano and Ryan handling bass and pedal steel. Jeremy Buller, a guitarist and acquaintance of Gina's, heard the album and burned a copy for Winston Chapman (AKA Slap Bracelet), drummer for Denton's Fishboy. They both joined soon after, and Bosque Brown (named after the river that flows through Stephenville) was complete.

While trying to re-create the spare and haunting mood of the record, Bosque Brown quickly found that they had several advantages over most newly formed bands, including a firm family foundation from which to build. After playing only a couple of gigs, the band found themselves surrounded by the kind of buzz usually reserved for bands that have been together for more than a few months. Bosque Brown: Plays Mara Lee Miller was finally released on April 19 and has since risen as high as #108 on the CMJ college music charts. The band will take their first trip on the road in September to play the CMJ Music Festival in New York City. It will be their 10th show.

In concert, Miller is a captivating presence, and her shyness only accentuates that quality. She rarely speaks between songs, and when she does, it's only to say a brief "thank you" or to whisper an aside to her band mates. Once her voice fills the room, however, you can't help but forgive the awkwardness. Though reminiscent of artists like Cat Power, Hope Sandoval and Jolie Holland, Miller's singing, especially when complemented by her sister's harmonies, is truly incomparable. When their two voices melt together on "Silver and Gold," they can make a rock club feel like an old country church, conjuring something beautiful and uplifting from all the smoke and the darkness.

Mara Lee Miller, the songwriter behind Bosque Brown, 
says she's "not very comfortable with being the center of 
attention." Whoops.
Ryan Miller
Mara Lee Miller, the songwriter behind Bosque Brown, says she's "not very comfortable with being the center of attention." Whoops.

"I'm not the type of person that's very comfortable with being the center of attention," Miller says, but lately, she's been just that, going from complete obscurity to darling of the Denton scene in a few short months. The added pressure can't help her stage fright, but she doesn't let it bother her too much. "It's weird. As soon as I start singing, I can kind of put myself somewhere else and it's okay," she says. With her heartbreakingly beautiful music, Miller has found a way to take her listeners with her.

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