What a fantastic treat! Not only do we have Buddy Miller Hightone debut album Your Love And Other Lies (1995) that set the standard for country inclined acts on the Americana scene but, Poison Love (1997) that pretty much took over where the former left off. Both feature a generous selection of material by Buddy with and without his wife, Julie Miller.
Aided by Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Jim Lauderdale, Dan Penn and his own wife, Julie on various tracks plus pickers Gurf Morlix, Tammy Rogers, Al Perkins, Phil Madeira, Don Heffington, Byron House and Donald Lindley on the opening album and supplemented on the second by the likes of Sam Bush, Steve Fishell, Ollie O’Shea and from Harris’ band of the he fronted (Spy Boy), Brady Blade and Daryl Johnson. Impressive, you bet. The music from Miller’s debut had many an old sage’s ears prick and them take a keener interest in this ‘new’ music called Americana.
Utilising traditional country with a keen, invigorated sound Miller continuously stirs up an impassioned sound as twangy guitars share the stage with percussion, steel guitar, fiddle and as you would expect from those listed above some exquisite harmony vocals. You can add Steve Earle with whom he also played on ‘Poison Love’. I recall first hearing and enjoying immensely by Gail Davies’ off her self-titled debut record in 1978. Staying with covers Miller’s love of traditional country also rears when he turns in a killer version of Tom T Hall’s ‘That’s How I Got To Memphis’ and the Roger Miller, George Jones song ‘Nothing Can Stop Me Know’.
From his own pen his debut record produced the must hear can’t be ignored pieces ‘Hole In My Head’, ‘Watching Amy Dance’ and the quick-fire ‘I Don’t Mean Maybe’ (with Julie) that is not to mention their killer version of the Louvin Brothers hit ‘You’re Running Wild’ and a heart-stopping cover of Gurf Morlix – Jim Leslie song ‘A Girl Like You’. From the second of the two records no less than seven songs are co-writes by Buddy and Julie, and one ‘100 Million Little Bombs’ has one of the most powerful messages concerning an anti-war theme heard in recent times. Others of note include Buddy’s co-write with Jim Lauderdale, ‘Love Snuck-up’; that Buddy and Julie perform as a duet as they whet the appetite for more of the same and more was to follow from them. The impassioned ‘That’s How Strong Is’ is another of exceptional quality and with steel guitar and a finely toned undercurrent of instrumental work, Miller’s rough ‘round the edges vocals nail the lyric, perfectly. If Buddy is new to you or you just don't have anything by him this is a perfect way to start.
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