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coverpic flag US - Tennessee - Full Moon 153 - 03/11/09

Buddy & Julie Miller
Written in Chalk
New West/Playground

If anyone is still unfamiliar with the work of Buddy Miller, let me tell you that if you have ever lent an ear to modern (alt)country there is a big chance that you've heard the man somehow. Having played on records and tours with people like Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams and Plant/Krauss, produced Solomon Burke and Allison Moorer and covered by a lot more. His wife over the last 20 years, Julie, has made a name as a great songwriter. Julie has released six solo albums and Buddy five. This is their second album together.

My first run through the album gave me a sense of pure bliss. Great songs, great sound and great grooves. That optimism washed off a bit on my second and third run. But it came around again. I had to grow back into it, and now I'm back in bliss.

There is no lack of deeply moving and sad songs, funny twists and tough rockers. Steve Earle once said that Buddy is the best singer in country rock and I'm not going to argue, although I'm not that interested in the competition. He's truly good to the material. And on top of great guitar work that's an unbeatable match. I've never quite become that fond of Julies nasal voice, but neither did I ever turn negative towards it.

Great contributions by Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin. A solid band, although with different players on every song, and not a song too many adds up to another great work by the Millers. The folksy groove of the opener, "Ellis County", the naked despair of "Don't Say Goodbye" and the gutsy "Smooth" sticks out. But I think that is only for now - new faves will turn up, I suspect and expect.

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