Six Mile Grove Celebrate 20 Years with “Million Birds”

The local Americana band shows why they have staying power

Six Mile Grove.
Six Mile Grove

Minnesota Americana band Six Mile Grove are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year with the release of their eighth album, Million BirdsThe release show is this Saturday, January 26th, at the Hook and Ladder. 

If you don’t know them, Million Birds is a great place to start, as it may be their best album. Their sound channels the Jayhawks, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty without sounding like a copy of any of them. They also have a more authentic feel than most current faces of Americana (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price, etc.). 

Million Birds album cover
Million Birds album cover

Million Birds shows the maturity of the band’s songwriting.

Melodies are strong, the songs are catchy and engaging, and their lyrics are far better than most of their peers. Instead of focusing in a self-absorbed way on their own personal issues, or limiting themselves by getting political, they focus on the bigger-picture ideas and feelings of normal people. They do this with the perfect combination straightforwardness and subtlety.  

For example, “Shame on Us” discusses big issues but doesn’t narrowcast. Musically it’s a highlight as well, starting out heavy before settling into a pedal steel-led ballad. “Wage a War” wonders when surrendering is the best option, in a relationship or otherwise (“Hard to wage a war/when there’s no way I can win”).

The complexity of relationships is covered with honesty in “Shot in the Arm” (not a Wilco cover), “Money Doesn’t Matter” wonders if that’s true, and album closer “Goodbye to Loneliness” has a good, subtle message of making positive changes…maybe. 

Six Mile Grove
Six Mile Grove

Like Six Mile Grove’s other albums, the sound of Million Birds is authentically Americana.

Well-executed harmonies, subtle pedal steel, and layers of acoustic and electric guitars keep it sonically interesting. The songs range from slow ballads (“Damned if I Do,” “Shame on Us”) to laid back mid-tempo country/rock (“Early Morning Rain,” “Not My Fault”) to all-out rock (“Shot in the Arm”). The maturity of their songwriting is most apparent on tremolo guitar-led, Matthew Ryan co-write “Patrol Cars.”

Six Mile Grove is one of the best Americana bands in Minnesota. Million Birds is only the latest example of that. Be sure to check out their show on Saturday at the Hook and Ladder. 

Written by Erik Ritland

Erik Ritland is a songwriter, musician, journalist, and podcaster based in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s released over a dozen albums since 2002, most recently Old Dog Almost Gone (2021), the first-ever multimedia album, and his latest collection of all original material, A Scientific Search (2020). During his 15+ years as a music journalist, Erik has written hundreds of articles for Music in Minnesota, Something Else Reviews, his own blog Rambling On, and more. In addition to continuing his music career, Erik currently runs The Cosmic American, a music journalism website, and is the editor of Music in Minnesota.


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