Marc Miner’s Last Heroes continues exploring the same vein of honest, immediate songwriting that has characterized the expat’s songwriting since his 2020 debut. Based out of Vienna, Austria, Miner has nevertheless preserved his American roots while benefitting from the cultural divide separating the heart of continental Europe from the American South musical influences that permeate his songwriting. Last Heroes’ eleven songs cover a gamut of subjects but share a commitment to pursuing personal truths at any cost. Miner pays the price with each performance and we are the beneficiaries.
“Sweet Revenge” opens the album on the darkest possible note. Miner, in a series of brutal near-vignettes, depicts a murderous couple and their crimes. The raw-boned musical backing complements Miner’s bloody tale just right. Miner’s vocals eschew any hint of overkill, as well – he plays the narrative straight and it’s all the more chilling for it. “Nicki & Bob” is another example of his songwriting emphasizing Miner’s talent for telling a compelling yarn. He doesn’t belabor his characters into being but, instead, sketches them out for listeners and concentrates on specific details to help bring them to life.
“Last Hero’s Gone” is another dark tale. It’s set to an up-tempo beat this time around and Miner affects a twang in his voice that doesn’t sound pretentious. His varying delivery reflects an approach to the performances akin to what an actor might do – Miner assumes different roles that complement the music. He sides with a lighter musical backing this time out and it’s an appropriate choice. Hard-rocking blues and heavy guitar would likely overwhelm the lyrics.
The Tex-Mex border blues of “Hero of Laredo” depicts an outlaw’s hard-luck rise on the city’s meanest streets with the confidence of a master short story author. Perfecting the ability to tell such stories in the condensed form of a song is an art that Miner has worked hard at developing, without question. The remarkable thing, however, is the effortless way tracks such as this come off. “Heavy Bones” is another album highlight. This track is much more of a musical heavy-hitter than many other Last Heroes performances, but Miner never sacrifices nuance along the way. The blood and guts soul still pours out of him, as well, especially thanks to his deeply felt vocal.
“Bible & Rifle” draws its inspiration from several sources. It’s a painfully timely song, as well, that resonates in the current climate both in America and abroad. The thudding pace accentuates Miner’s obvious rage over several things without ever dragging the song into dissonant chaos. The easy countrified-amble of “Home Ain’t No Place for Me” belies the fatalistic tilt of its lyrics and Miner’s singing recalls Hank Williams III’s distinctive delivery without ever sounding imitative. Organ lines laced through the song provide distinctive strands of color.
Marc Miner shows listeners a variety of faces throughout Last Heroes’ eleven songs. It’s a coherent outing, however, with core musical values that never waver. His lyrical acumen reaches greater heights than we heard on his 2020 debut without ever abandoning the virtues that brought him to the dance.