Album Review: Written In Chalk by Buddy & Julie Miller
Great, Based on 4 Critics
Paste Magazine - 84 Based on rating 8.4/10
Just how much heartache can two people mend with a song?Teenage boys don’t typically learn how to play the guitar in order to make some grand artistic statement.generous, a bit of attention from the fairer gender. When Buddy Miller sat on the edge of his bed as a kid—long before the unruly mane fanning out from beneath his trademark ball cap turned grey—and tentatively strummed along with his favorite rock LPs, I doubt he had any idea just how well he’d manage, in both respects. Beginning with 1995’s Your Love And Other Lies, Miller unleashed a string of gritty, soulful records that earned him a reputation as one of the finest—many would argue the finest—living practitioners of country music.
Julie helps out on two such songs, "Don't Say Goodbye," the single most devastating song on the record, and the resigned loneliness of "Chalk." In her song "Long Time," Julie's blues-drenched vocal brings to mind a young Rickie Lee Jones, but without the sass and swagger. For Julie Miller, these lyrics and her melody carry all the power they need; her delivery allows them to assert themselves -- and they do authoritatively. The smoky, boozy trumpet solo by Kami Lyle is another highlight.
Buddy Miller may well be, as some prominent voices hold, the past decade’s best artist of his kind. But for all his admirable modesty, you’d never know it. For that reason, a new Buddy Miller record is an important and understated event, like an appearance by the world’s most valuable sixth man. A new record with his talented wife Julie is even more remarkable because in spite of all the collaborating they’ve done throughout the years, this is only their second proper album together.
It's been a long time coming, but the husband-and-wife team of Buddy and Julie Miller are at last emerging as major celebrities in the new American country scene. They've done it the hard way, working as songwriters, producers or band members - and in the process earning praise and respect from the likes of Emmylou Harris and Robert Plant, both of whom make an appearance here. This is the new Nashville at its best: a no-nonsense, gently gutsy and agreeably freewheeling set, recorded in their home studio with no slick production work to take the rough edges off their songs.