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Buddy MIller: The Majestic Silver Strings

Here’s a star-studded sleeper to warm your autumnal chill. It’s no surprise Buddy Miller musters a posse of eclectic guitarists and singers to revive this flock of country classics. Hank Williams may not have done it this way but Miller has no problems striking a rich vein when he mines melancholia. Especially when he builds his distinct atmospheric wall of sound at his home studio, as seen on this disc accompanied by a DVD about its making and live recording at the historic Belcourt Theatre.


Aided by fellow guitarists Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot and Greg Leisz he reaches back in a bluegrass twist of Tex Owens’ 1934 entrée Cattle Call, replete with yodelling. Ribot takes lead vocal on equally historic Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie and Ann McCrary injects a gospel flavour into No Good Lover.

Patty Griffin and Shawn Colvin may seem odd choices to resurrect a pair of Lefty Frizzell songs I Want To Be With You Always and That’s The Way Love Goes. But it works, as Texan Lee Ann Womack – one of few traditional country singers on radio – drives the perfect vocal vehicle in the pair of Ribot originals Meds and Return To Me.


Ribot leads band and vocals on jail song Barres de la Prison and duets with Miller on George Jones hit Why Baby Why.


In the final stanza Emmylou Harris guests on Stonewall Jackson/Melvin Endsley tune Why I’m Walkin’ and Julie Miller duets with singing spouse Buddy on her finale God’s Winged Horse, penned with Frisell.


This may be a guitar slingers paradise – especially instrumental Freight Train – but these seasoned chanteuses whip cream atop this edible gateau.


By David Dawson


Best Tracks: Why I’m Walkin and Return To Me

If You Like These, You’ll Like This: SONS OF THE PIONEERS


In A Word: A short trip to country’s distant roots by modern masters