Buddy & Julie Miller
Breakdown on 20th Ave. South
New West Records
Captivatingly Raw and Emotional Alt. Country From the Soul.
Shame on me, but I actually only own two tracks by Buddy & Julie Miller; both of which are from their 2009 album WRITTEN IN CHALK and I played on my olde Radio Show.
In the interim I’ve moved here, Buddy Miller has been the defacto go-to Producer/session man for a host of Award winning albums as well as being the ‘Executive Music Producer’ on TV’s Nashville; and Julie has been very, very poorly.
Recorded in the Miller’s ‘home studio’ (which I bet is a bit bigger than just a garage with a laptop and Pro-Tools!) there’s a delightful intimacy to both Buddy’s production and Julie’s singing and songwriting; at time you will feel you are intruding on personal conversation set to music.
The title track Breakdown on 20th Ave. South opens the record and like just about every other song here sounds like an old friend coming around to visit on a sunny afternoon.
All of the songs here were written especially for this album in the last year; and culled from over 50 that spilled from Julie as the muse came back after laying dormant for the 10 years following that last release.
What a gorgeous voice Julie Miller has; and the way she curls her vocal chords around her words is quite shameful at times; but it goes to make I’m Gonna Make You Love Me and the thunderously bass heavy Underneath the Sky veritably sexy indeed!
The lazy among us will hear a lot of Robert Plant and Allison Krauss’ RAISING SAND here; but if you know your history Buddy & Julie Miller were sounding this way a long time before Percy discovered Americana music; and trust me; Julie Miller’s singing voice is every bit as captivating as Ms Krauss.
To some degree a couple in a very strong marriage could write and create songs like Spittin’ On The Fire and Unused Heart and come out the other side unscathed; which (fingers crossed) is the case here; with both songs being fragile and beautiful in equal measures.
Just when you think you’ve got a handle on Julie’s songwriting ‘style’ she drops in War Child, with Buddy on lead and Julie delivering some heartbreaking harmonies on a very powerful slice of Social Commentary indeed.
There are plenty of individual songs here that will be giving Awards committees headaches; but two in particular have stolen my own heart and both are unadulterated Love Songs; even if the slightly spiteful Everything Is Your Fault is a tad on the bittersweet edge of the spectrum; but the Official RMHQ ‘Til The Stardust Comes Apart is a pure 100% Country Love song that will move even the hardest of hearts.
This is one of the those albums that appears to be getting a bit of an understated release; but will surely pick up ‘word of mouth’ sales from people (like me) who will love and cherish it above this year’s releases by the great and the good in household names.