Thursday, July 1, 2010

Buddy & Julie Miller (2001)

(As published in the Illinois Entertainer ... )

Buddy & Julie Miller

Buddy and Julie Miller are to mystical Christianity and American folk-rock what Richard and Linda Thompson used to be to Sufi Islam and British folk-rock--a living embodiment of much that’s desirable and most of what’s possible in the bringing together of opposites.

The similarities don’t end there. Like Richard, Buddy is an ace guitarist with deep roots in various folk idioms and an O.K. voice; like Linda, Julie has a voice that can move mountains, break hearts, and tear down walls. Unlike the Thompsons, however, who made their best albums together, the Millers’ best work is still to be found on their solo albums (and, in the case of Buddy, on Emmylou Harris’s), wherein they tend to write the stand-out tracks themselves. Here the stand-out tracks come courtesy of Bob Dylan (“Wallflower”), Utah Phillips (“Rock Salt and Nails”), and--surprise--Richard Thompson (“Keep Your Distance”).

Which isn’t to say that “Rachel” shouldn’t garner special attention, especially in light of recent national catastrophes. Written by Julie about a spiritually sensitive victim of the Columbine shootings, its sympathies, compassion, and insistence on finding meaning in even apparently senseless violence will no doubt resonate with anyone in search of big answers.

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