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Buddy Miller

Midnight And Lonesome – 2002 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Buddy Miller

This is an album without discernable weakness, and it adds to a growing sense that Buddy Miller is on his way to being the 21st century, Americana permutation of Charlie Rich. His country soul groove, his musical eclecticism and his vocal and instrumental chops certainly lend credence to such a comparison. So does a wife whose collaborations are essential to his art and whose songs are the frameworks for some of his strongest performances.

Here, those performances include the near-to-unbearable ache of "Can't Get Over You," (featuring the harmonies of Lee Ann Womack, which make no small contribution to the ache), "Quecreek," a commemoration of faith and hope that links the rescue of the Quecreek, Pa. miners to the resurrection and the uptempo twang of "Wild Card," a clever take on the irresistability of domesticity. The soul gets countrified on "When It Comes To You" and bluesy on Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love," and there's even some Cajun touches on "Little Bitty Kiss" and "Oh Fait Pitie D'Amour." The album's crowning moment, though, is Miller's worn-to-the-bone rendition of "A Showman's Life," Jesse Winchester's rumination on the toll taken by a musician's calling; aided by Emmylou Harris's harmonizing, he simply makes the song his own.