A blistering version of “Stagger Lee” occurs seven tracks deep into Danielle Miraglia’s most recent album, Box of Troubles. The notes come fast and hard. The thumb pick on the bass strings is like a jackhammer, insistent in its driving urgency. The tempo is faster than I’ve ever heard it before, but it seems right. Her voice is strong and expressive with a whiskey-stained authority, peppered occasionally with a raspy growl, as she sings: Police officer, how can it be / You can arrest everybody but cruel old Stagger Lee? That bad man, cruel Stagger Lee … Her slide guitar sets up an ominous drone....
The second track is another searing blues number, but more contemporary. “Loud Talker” is a different kind of wake-up call to anyone not familiar with Danielle’s gifts. The central character is a clinical case study, a composite of a certain type of temptress found in and around the bar scene: I’m no street walker / Just cause I’m rubbing up against this pole / My tight dress is for me alone / But, don’t you want to take me home? Full of contradictions, this genus alcoholica presents a perfect opportunity for Danielle’s astute observational and storytelling skills: Look at me, don’t look at me / Look at me, don’t look at me / Hold me… Hold me … Don’t let me be lonely / I’m so lonely … Get off of me… Her husky alto, riding over the sound of her steady foot stomp, the lap steel, fiddle and lead guitar, packs an unforgettable wallop. The male of the species got off easy this time, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been watching.
An interview with this refreshingly affable, down-to-earth performer reveals how she became the player and writer she is today....
Danielle Miraglia: Press
"Hopefully the rest of the world will find out what we've known for years in New England -- that Danielle Miraglia is a fabulously gifted singer-songwriter whose uncanny folk/blues/jazz is both progressive and highly original. Her new album, "Box of Troubles,'' is a box of pleasure if there ever was one.'' --
"Singer/Song writer Danielle Miraglia is considered by many to be a blues artist. But, if her performance is what it means to have the blues, I’m throwing away my Prozac. There is a joy and humor which stitches their way throughout each song and story connected to it sewing a smile to each face and heart who are penetrated by her needling insights and wit. While the influence many great blues singers has on Ms. Miraglia’s compositions and performance styles can be speculated on, there is little doubt, if any of those legendary performer were to experienced her talents, they would be inspired by her..." - (Click link for full review).
Danielle Miraglia’s guitar work keeps Delta traditions alive. Her steady thumb and playing style trace a direct line to the blues of the field and chicken shacks. Vocally, Danielle’s voice digs in, twisting within the delivery, seeming to break but more likely soaring before the fall. ‘Box of Troubles’ balances good times with the bad, her characters roles’ defined and believable. As “See The Light” bounces along its way, Danielle’s voice calls you forward to join the parade, pushing you on for one more try, “I’m all right, if you’re all right, it’s so dark I can see the light”. For “Choir”, she mines musical history, citing Dylan’s role to make things right, hearing the hope and seeing the limitations by pointing out that “no one is listening but the choir”. The mix of guitar work and voice is one in the songs of Danielle Miraglia. Her loss is tangible in “Another Round”, you can tell that whatever was is over but Danielle holds out hope, grabbing the sleeve of the departing love interest, “have another round with me, please don’t leave me alone at sea” the only sound to be heard. It is testament to the Danielle’s lure that when she pauses within the song to raise one last plea, your breath stops with hers as she waits for the reply.
She’s an up and coming blues woman who doesn't hide behind a huge band -- they're here but she is definitely front and center with her in-your-face attitude. Combine that with her hot acoustic slide guitar and a voice with a Janis Joplin edge and you've got some great tunes that even a hardcore Robert Johnson fan will love. Every song on this collection of original tunes is good but two stand out. One is "Stagger Lee," driven by a slide guitar and a dramatic story. The other, "See the Light," has a great harmonica punctuating the beat, a bluesy banjo and a foot-tapping sing along chorus where she sings "I’m all right if you’re all right." Now that we’re heard you, Danielle, we are.
Danielle Miraglia - Box Of Troubles (Independent)
A singer-songwriter with a distinct blues sound, Danielle Miraglia has the voice and flair to make a considerable impact with an audience fully engaged with a substantial musical tradition but always ready to embrace new talent. Her 2005 debut “Nothing Romantic”, I’m sorry to say, passed me by but not so “Box Of Troubles”. It’s an assured, confident collection from an artist close to the peak of her powers, willing and able to stretch herself to wherever she wants to be.
Her songs, stripped and bare, focus on universal truths and augmented by a host of guest musicians playing violin, banjo and brass, yet it’s Miraglia’s guitar that remains central to everything here, whether it’s the excellent chugging arrangement on “Stagger Lee” or the concerted strum of “Loud Talker”. If I were forced to recommend just one track to pique your interest, then I’d choose “Choir”. It’s got everything: a splendid vocal, great playing from everyone concerned, and a song that’ll knock your socks off.
Folk fans in the Northeast are already hip to the talents of Danielle Miraglia, and with her latest release, Nothing Romantic, it won’t be long before the rest of the country takes notice as well. The record begins with “Snow Globe” which showcases her impressive talent on the acoustic guitar, fingerpicking like ol’ Doc Watson himself. Next comes “Sell My Soul,” a rowdy, bluesy number about the temptations and frustrations of the music scene. “Pull up the black limousine, dig me from this hole, set up the drum machine, I’m ready to sell my soul,” Miraglia sings as soulful harmonica and bari sax commiserate.
Mandolin, bass, piano, dobro, pedal steel and drums all make appearances on the record, weaving in and around the true star of the record: Miraglia’s smoky vocals. They sweetly draw you in, while spiritedly getting her point across.
Danielle Miraglia's country/folk/blues sound descends in large part from Mississippi John Hurt, and she is a worthy carrier of that guitar-picking tradition. Her voice, reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt's, is strong but vulnerable, feminine but never precious, with a gutwrenching catch to it. Her guitar playing is both accomplished and soulful, and her songs tap into the ur-melodies and fundamental chord changes that form the essence of western music, while still saying something in a distinct and original voice.
Both as a writer and as a musician Miraglia maintains a deep connection to traditional styles of playing and singing. The folky "Snow Globe," with only her guitar-picking as accompaniment, may be the saddest and best song about self-imposed isolation since Simon and Garfunkel's "I am a Rock." From its sparse beauty Miraglia segues into the draggy blues of "Sell My Soul," the obligatory "I wanna be a star" confessional every highly talented, unjustly obscure singer-songwriter has to write. It has the kind of dirty-blues feel John Hiatt mined a few years ago on his masterful Crossing Muddy Waters album.
Normally I'm not much for feel-good folk weepies, but it's hard to resist "Moment By Moment" with its earworm of a chorus and Kevin So lending backing vocal and keyboard support. "Say One Thing" is yet another winner, a harshly funny indictment of hypocrisies large and small:
Said the blind man, This is how I see it
Said the stalker, If you love that bird then free it
Said the white-hooded man, Love your brother
Say one thing and do another
Miraglia's lyrics are full of such pithiness. "Better," a clever and bouncy country-folk love song, leads into her masterpiece, "You Don't Know Nothin'," one of the best new folk songs I've heard in years. Its depiction and dissection of human misunderstanding is both sharp and tender. All you need to know about what drives people apart and what draws them together can be witnessed in a few hours spent in a bar. Many of us feel something along those lines, but Danielle Miraglia is that rare songwriter who can put it into words.
Returning to the country-blues groove, but in a minor key, "Cry" is literally about the grim frustration of being an infant who can't communicate her feelings. Perhaps metaphorically it's about artistic expression, but the lyrics draw such vivid pictures there's no need to reach for meaning. It's a fitting subject for a songwriter who's so good at getting to the roots of things: what could be more rootsy than infancy?
The title track sounds like a traditional country shuffle about life on the road, and for the most part it is, but it turns the cliched American "romance of the highway" on its head: "There nothing romantic about a highway/No big revelations, nothing new/And I can write a road song any day/There's nothing romantic about missing you." Then, in "The Only Way to Win," the protagonist pleads amusingly for misfortune and heartache so she can write great songs, sing the blues with authenticity and become a star.
In the pretty closer, "The Wind," Miraglia sings folk with authenticity. But it's the kind of song any reasonably talented folkie could have come up with. Danielle Miraglia's talents go far beyond that modest level. This CD kicks Americana ass.
With Nothing Romantic, Danielle Miraglia offers humor and intimacy, sentimentality and cynicism, wit and sadness. Some songs, like the opener, “Snow Globe,” have the simplicity of her voice with just an acoustic guitar accompaniment. Her delicate playing, dotted with memorable finger picked ostinatos, complements Miraglia’s obvious talent as a wordsmith.She sings “Black clouds and danger signs are hard on the eyes / I’m gonna close the blinds until it’s all blue skies / Blindness is a gift reserved for the wise / See no evil.” Using the snow globe well as a metaphor for being stuck in a non-reality, the rest of the verses complete the imagery around the familiar saying, “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”
On “Sell My Soul,” her sound is embellished by a full band, and it’s full of a refreshingly funny cynicism about the music industry. “These sour grapes will grow ripe and sweet / And my back-up dancers will feed them to me / The ones who used to ignore me will be at my feet / Just ‘cause they heard me on the radio.”
Miraglia is not afraid to evoke unusual and somewhat uncomfortable imagery as in the song “Cry” where she sings “When I cry out loud / You stick a dollar in my mouth / I suck that nipple dry / Until I realize / There’s no milk coming out.”
Other highlights include the title track — a song about the woes of being on the road and missing home. However, Miraglia at least throws some humor in the mix; “The Only Way to Win” is as witty as any well-written wry Nashville ditty. (Label Peeler Records)
"Nothing Romantic" TC Krentz - Boston Girl Guide
"This third release for Danielle Miraglia has proven she consistently delivers an intriguing style of country-folk with an occasional scrape with the blues. Whether backed by a player (or 4) or just her 'n her guitar, each song holds its own ground..." More
"Bad Poetry" was chosen as one of Jay Miller's top CD's of 2002 in the Dec 31st issue of the Patriot Ledger among Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising" the 8 Mile soundtrack and others.
Here's where we break the rules, because this is just a 7-song, 29 minute CD, which was released before 2002, although we only got it this year. Boston-based Miraglia manages to bring Sheryl Crow's rockin' verve, and Mary-Chapin Carpenter's literary lyrical style to life with her own sort of blithe insouciance. Her husky alto is both engaging and world-weary as she sings memorable lines like "She can still drink the boys under the table but there's no charm now in not being stable" in the song "Wrinkled Tattoo."
There's a neat portrait of a relationship of convenience in "Loneliness Prevention," which has the bittersweet line "You're the light of my life, but I've got the dimmer switch." It's a little sarcastic and cynical, but mostly compelling and amusing. Miraglia regularly plays local clubs like Mount Blue and the Blackthorne Tavern, and this EP proves she's worth catching.
Danielle was the featured musical guest on the "Historic Boston" edition of the Food Network show "Food Nation" with Bobby Flay. The Premiere was Tuesday, October 2nd, 2002.
Danielle was featured along with Aimee Mann, Mary Gauthier, Gillian Welch, Eliza Gilkinson and others in the September issue of French Marie Claire.
Live review by Jane Harris of Wormtown.Org "The Real Deal: Danielle Miraglia"
"When Danielle Miraglia takes the stage she gets your attention immediately. I've seen her play in Worcester, Shirley and Somerville and each time it's a lot of fun. The first time I caught her act was in Worcester last summer at the now extinct Cool Beans. I had no idea who the feature act was to be that night and what a pleasant surprise it was. At about 9 p.m. the host of the show was beginning to look worried that his star of the evening may not be coming then someone at the bar tells him there's a blonde carrying a guitar coming across the street. Seconds later the door opens and in walks a fashionably late, stunningly attractive, mid-twenties, blonde woman. I was into the guy who was playing his set at that moment but I must say that I became instantly curious about what we were all about to hear. Was she all looks or was she the read deal? Two sets later it was time for the feature act of the night. Up to the stage with acoustic in hand walked Danielle. Unlike the rest of the performers that night she chose to stand for her set and in a minute or two she was ready to play. Let me tell you, she was the real deal..."
"Bad Poetry" Chosen as one of top 5 November, Boston Soundcheck Magazine -- Karl Russo
"This CD rocks! Ah, wait a minute. It’s a folk singer/songwriter artist. OK, so it’s an enticing selection of memorable, well-structured quality music. Is that better? Singer/guitarist Danielle Miraglia is the true definition of musical talent. Her compositions, while representing the aforementioned style, possess a hint of pop, making them stand out from your average run of the mill singer/songwriter artist. Lead-off track “Wrinkled Tattoo,” and its follower “Just Won’t Bite,” kick the record off in an uplifting ,pleasant way. Contrasting these is the title track, “Bad Poetry.” A haunting, darker selection, Miraglia offers some fancy finger-picking work structured around a brilliant chord progression. A better selection for a titled track couldn’t have been decided upon. Miraglia shows some of her bluesy side with “Skeletons,” proving that she has a strong ability to incorporate different styles and not sacrifice song-writing quality. Miraglia has all the right tools; talent, image, and an amazing voice to boot. You gotta love this disc."
Independent CD Reviews by Carol Anne Szel
"On her debut CD, Bad Poetry, Danielle Miraglia takes us through an introspective journey of emotions with an almost narrative tone. Her voice is light, yet strong and inviting, as we glance into her soul.
The standout cut is "Wrinkled Tattoo." It tells the story of a woman who muses about her younger days as she states that she "can still drink the boys under the table." Today she sits at a bar, with the only tangible memory of days gone by being her wrinkled tattoo. Sadly but wistfully, this character holds on to her "handful of memories" and remarks that this "wasn't the way my life was supposed to be." A visual scene brought out in lyrics accompanied in part by a simple, bluesy guitar.
The title track, "Bad Poetry," is an earthy, softer tune based on jazzy guitar. It holds a lyrical wishbone of a long-gone relationship when this saddened poet had nothing to write about. Very poignant and moving.
With great music backed by heartfelt lyrics, there is a twang of country along the way and a must listen tune called "Groupie in Denial" that will tickle the funny bone of anyone who has ever been part of the musical scene."