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Buddy Miller

Poison Love – 1997 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

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CDs by Buddy Miller

Finding fresh soul in Otis Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is" is only one of Buddy Miller's many accomplishments. He illuminates the song's boundless dedication with a vocal that digs to the deepest recesses of the heart. His music fuses lyric, melody and arrangement in seamless service of emotion, stretching from the interior dramas of love's lost and found to the international horrors of indiscriminate landmine carnage. Co-writing and harmonizing with his wife, Julie, as well as singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale, Miller produced one of the very best hard-country albums of the year.

The album features the Millers' harmonies, giving each a turn at lead. The instruments stretch a bit more on Julie's album, from the menacing bass and percussion of "The Devil is an Angel" to Phil Madeira's melancholy pump organ on the title track. Buddy's guitar lights sparks the album, including on the blue reverb of his own "Draggin' the River." Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris and Tammy Rogers guest with Sam Bush providing superb fiddle playing for Buddy.