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Buddy Miller

Buddy & Julie Miller – 2001 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

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CDs by Buddy Miller

Though they've toured together and appeared on each other's albums, the Millers' first album-length collaboration intertwines their artistry more tightly than ever before. From the outset, a duet of Richard Thompson's "Keep Your Distance," their contributions interweave with a balance befitting the billing. Julie Miller's seven solo compositions dominate the disc with songs of love's passionate first blush and loving hearts' last beats, but the Millers' combined musical talents, including Buddy's guitars, Julie's girl-woman voice and the couple's harmonies, produce a single, unified sound.

On their own tunes (including a co-write, "Dirty Water"), and covers of Dylan ("Wallflower") and U. Utah Phillips ("Rock Salt and Nails"), the Millers trade lead, background, harmony and duet vocals as only musical and spiritual soulmates can. Emmylou Harris' guest harmony on "Forever Has Come to an End" meshes like a front-porch family sing.

The production sports mostly guitar, bass and drums (including a few tracks featuring the late Donald Lindley), with touches of fiddle, mandolin and Hammond B3 for atmospheric fills. The tunes range widely from comtemplative folk to upbeat acoustic duets to swampy blues-edge rock. Though the Millers bring rock 'n' roll energy to bear on folk and country roots, they're able to step back to let songs like "Rachel" (inspired by the Columbine massacre) provide an emotional punch.

Buddy and Julie Miller are truly two great tastes that taste great together.