My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Buddy and Julie Miller – ‘Buddy and Julie Miller’

buddyandjulielargeIt took Buddy Miller six years and four studio albums before he made a proper duo record with his wife Julie. Released in 2001 on HighTone Records, Buddy and Julie Miller was the inaugural Album of the Year at the Americana Music Awards.

The album features cover songs composed by folk/rock legends as well as original material. They open with an excellent take on Richard Thompson’s “Keep Your Distance,” which I came to know four years later through Patty Loveless. I also enjoyed their beautiful rendition of the Utah Phillips classic “Rock, Salt, Nails,” a song I hadn’t heard before. They unfortunately misstep with Bob Dylan’s “Wallflower.” The duo turned a simple country song into a loud mess.

Julie solely composed the remainder of the album, save one song. “You Make My Heart Beat Too Fast” is pure aggressive rock & roll, with Julie’s distinctive voice leading the way. The similarly uptempo “Rachael” is much more tasteful and falls within the appealing sonic vein of “Keep Your Distance.”

“Forever Has Come to an End” is a stunning country ballad about a guy lamenting the end of his marriage. They forgo the fiddle and steel, but the aching sincerity of the lyric perfectly shines through. “That’s Just How She Cries” is a strong lyric, but the arraignment is missing the flavor necessary to give it appealing texture. The same blandness mares “Holding Up The Sky.” The track prominently features an acoustic guitar that doesn’t really do anything to elevate the song in any significant way.

My trouble with Buddy and Julie Miller lies in the simple fact it isn’t a country album at all. I certainly see the quality in the songs, but the arrangements significantly hold me back from truly enjoying the album as a whole. But I did love “Forever Has Come to an End” and their cover of “Keep Your Distance” was very, very good.

There just isn’t much else that was truly appealing to my ears. Does that make Buddy and Julie Miller a bad album? Not in the least. Although it isn’t my personal taste, I can still clearly see why it’s been so lauded. I recommend seeking it out in order for you to make your own judgments.

Grade: B+

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2 responses to “Album Review: Buddy and Julie Miller – ‘Buddy and Julie Miller’

  1. Paul W Dennis February 11, 2016 at 6:33 am

    I liked this album more than you did, regarding it as a solid A. It isn’t as country as I’d hoped, but the pairing is effective. I agree that “Wallflower” was the weakest track on the album, but I’ve never much cared for the song anyway

    “Rock Salt & Nails” was recorded many years ago (I think 1969) by Steve Young, a version that received some radio airplay although I doubt that it charted. Waylon Jennings also had a good recording of the song on his SINGER OF SAD SONGS album. I understand that Joan Baez also recorded the song, but I haven’t heard her version

  2. Leeann February 12, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Like Paul, I like this album a lot too!

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