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Buddy Miller

Cruel Moon – 1999 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Brian Steinberg

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CDs by Buddy Miller

Buddy Miller is really letting his roots show. The 11 songs on his third album for HighTone are not so much straight-ahead country but rather blues and soul numbers with country elements mixed in. Take the opener, "Does My Ring Burn Your Finger." It's a blues tune, first and foremost. But Miller's hardcore twang and expert production lace it with enough yearning tones and weeping guitar to satisfy most traditional fans.

The title track, sung with Emmylou Harris, and "Looking For A Heartache Like You" may remind some of Otis Redding's more romantic moments, while the swampy beat of "Somewhere Trouble Don't Go" evokes New Orleans.

Sure, "Cruel Moon" has a misstep or two - "Love Match," by songsmith Paul Kennerly and sung in tandem with Steve Earle - seems a bit too pat when compared alongside numbers written by Buddy's wife, Julie - but Miller's unadulterated, unvarnished selections, filled with depths of emotion, is a most satisfying musical outing.