Lucinda Williams's intimate performance set for this week at the Belly Up is already sold out and highly anticipated. Although many are going to see the legend herself, many music fans are just as excited to see the up-and-coming guitar prodigy Blake Mills, who has been quietly making waves for the last few years as a member of the now defunct Simon Dawes (which later evolved into the LA-based Dawes) and as a touring partner of Cass McCombs, Lucinda Williams, Jenny Lewis, Band of Horses and Julian Casablanca. And that's not to mention Mills' recording work with Weezer, Kid Rock, Jakob Dylan, Norah Jones and Andrew Bird.
Then, Mills released a fantastic debut album in 2010, Break Mirrors. I've been a fan of his for years, yet the Huffington Post recently claimed he was "the First Great Revelation of 2012." Not to play the cool-kid card, but his recent mainstream recognition makes me feel like the indie community is about to lose another best-kept secret. Mills' success is inevitable, however; he's an undisputed guitar-shredding champ and a superb songwriter. Break Mirrors clocks in as one of my favorite records of all time; excuse the hyperbole, but you're just going to have to listen to it to understand. Songs like "Hey Lover" and "It'll All Work Out" have gorgeous undertones of sadness and humor dressed in storytelling that doesn't bother playing around with poetic lyrical devices, instead just showcasing straight singing: "Thank you, Dad, I love you/And I hope you're proud/And I'm sorry that I didn't take the road you laid down, but it'll all work out". He seems to have resurrected the lost art of songwriting, returning it to its traditional folk roots with some really interesting instrumentation that evokes so much range of emotion.
Mills' aloof attitude plays into his mythology well, and the comedic digital collages and album artwork he chooses suggests that he doesn't care much for PR exposure or fitting into the overhyped Pitchfork machine. It's as if he knows something we all don't -- and that's his allure. His extraordinary musical talent will carry him through, and he doesn't need to worry about whether his promo photos look right. So far, it's working. He just appeared on Conan O'Brien to perform a Dylan cover as his contribution to the Amnesty International compilation, along with Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes and Mills' girlfriend LA artist Danielle Haim. Aspiring musicians, take note.
For those of you lucky enough to snag a ticket to the show, keep your eyes on Blake Mills' set: It's sure to be something special.