CD Pick: Written In Chalk by Buddy & Julie Miller
Buddy and Julie Miller
Written In Chalk (2009)
Label: New West Records
Genre: Roots, Americana
A friend of mine in California just sent me the latest offering from husband and wife duo, Buddy and Julie Miller. First thing I did was pop it in the car’s CD player, and I’ve been listening to it for a couple days now. Written In Chalk is a fine recording. In true Americana fashion, the disc is steeped in country, jazz and blues. Buddy and Julie Miller somehow manage to be both primitive and sophisticated at the same time.
To give you a little background, this talented pair may not be household names, but they’re well-respected among musicians and roots buffs. They’ve been married for the last 20 years, singing on each other’s solo albums as well as their duo CDs and appearing with a circle of musicians who sing their praises every chance they get.
Buddy Miller is known as a songwriter and co-songwriter for folks like the Dixie Chicks, Lee Ann Womack and Brooks & Dunn. He has also performed with Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams. His 1999 solo release, Cruel Moon (Hightone Records) features harmony work from wife Julie, Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris.
Julie’s Broken Things (1999 Hightone Records) and Blue Pony (1997) CDs have both been acclaimed critically, showcasing her songwriting skills along with her vocal abilities.
Recorded at the couple’s home studio in Nashville, Written In Chalk is a soulful collaboration of the two. Buddy’s guitar work is stellar and the harmonies throughout are right on. Track two, “Gasoline and Matches,”written by Julie and Buddy, has all the earmarks of a hit. It’s sexy and fun; plus there’s a driving beat that makes you sit up and take notice.
“Long Time” is a sweet, sad, soulful tune and Julie’s voice just sends it home to the heart.
Flat out the most fun is “What You Gonna Do Leroy,” which was written by Mel Tillis and released by Burl Ives back in 1962. Buddy’s duet with Robert Plant was a great surprise, and definitely adds to the song’s charm.
There are some other guest contributors to the CD as well. Track three features Patty Griffin on “Don’t Say Goodbye” and on the duet, “Chalk.” Regina McCrary pairs with Buddy on track six, “One Part, Two Part” and again on “Hush, Sorrow,” track nine. The final track, “The Selfishness In Man” includes harmony from Emmylou Harris.
If you’re a fan of Buddy and Julie Miller, you’ll want to add this one to your collection. If you’re just jumping on the Buddy and Julie bandwagon, this is a great place to start.
Reviewed by Dariel Bendin