Buddy Miller

Midnight and Lonesome

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    8
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Buddy Miller's fourth solo release (fifth if you count 2001's collaboration with wife Julie Miller) slots comfortably into the established formula around which he's structured all of his albums. Lots of honky tonk infused into heartfelt ballads (Jesse Winchester's "A Showman's Life"), upbeat rockers (the Everly Brothers' "The Price of Love"), rural hillbilly ("Wild Card"), and a stray soul cover (Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love"). Emmylou Harris, whose band he plays in, adds backing vocals. Wife Julie does as well, and also contributes four songs in addition to co-writing three others. Old pals like songwriter Jim Lauderdale, Tammy Rogers on fiddle, and Al Perkins handling steel guitar also make appearances. But even though he's following his own blueprint, Miller never just goes through the motions, making this one of his most consistent and enjoyable works. The couple successfully shifts gears by delving into traditional Cajun on "Oh Fait Pitié d'Amour" and acoustic jazz/blues with standup bass on the Mayfield cover. The tracks range from playful on a silly but jaunty "Little Bitty Kiss" to serious on the somber and stark closing "Quecreek," a song written and recorded a few hours after the rescue of workers at the titular mine. Miller teams up with Vigilantes of Love frontman Bill Mallonee for "Water When the Well Is Dry," a crackling country-rocker and one of the most powerful and catchy tunes he has recorded. Established fans will be thrilled by this rugged and rootsy addition to his catalog. Those who haven't experienced Buddy Miller's grits-and-honey voice, inventive guitar playing, and gutsy no-frills country approach can start their collections here.

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