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Midnight and Lonesome
     

Midnight and Lonesome

4.0 1
by Buddy Miller
 
Do not despair over the title of Buddy Miller's latest homegrown (as in recorded in his home) effort: Midnight and Lonesome spices its evocative, countrified tales of broken hearts and disillusioned characters with twangy roots rock and Cajun and R&B flavors to create a tasty musical gumbo. With his wife, Julie, contributing songs and

Overview

Do not despair over the title of Buddy Miller's latest homegrown (as in recorded in his home) effort: Midnight and Lonesome spices its evocative, countrified tales of broken hearts and disillusioned characters with twangy roots rock and Cajun and R&B flavors to create a tasty musical gumbo. With his wife, Julie, contributing songs and background vocals (alongside Emmylou Harris and Lee Ann Womack), Miller opts to keep it simple. The music is advanced by small combos -- sometimes only two musicians -- and even the raucous outings here have a spare, bare-bones ambiance, emphasizing the well-turned lyrics and heightening the impact of Miller's own reedy, unaffected vocals. Typical of anything that comes from the Millers' pens these days, the original songs command attention and demand repeat listenings, whether it's their collaboration "Wild Card," a Hank Williams–style honky-tonkin' tale of a rambler blindsided by love, or Julie's stark, riveting acoustic ballad for guitar and fiddle, "Quecreek," which offers a vivid recreation of the desperate hours of the trapped miners in Pennsylvania. Notable non-Miller songs include a rocking take on the Everly Brothers' "The Price of Love," defined by its searing electric guitar lines and the Millers' mountain-style harmonies, and a somber acoustic shuffle treatment of Jesse Winchester's "A Showman's Life," bittersweet testimony relating the downside of the troubadour's calling, with Emmylou adding a plaintive seconding of that emotion. And not least of all, Miller slips in a sly, seductive reading of Percy Mayfield's classic R&B chart-topper from 1950, "Please Send Me Someone to Love," which decried the tyranny of racial prejudice at the dawn of the modern civil rights movement. To torture the food metaphor, there's much to chew on here, and it's all strictly gourmet fare.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Hal Horowitz
Buddy Miller's fourth solo release (fifth if you count 2001's collaboration with wife Julie Miller) slots comfortably into the established formula around which he's structured all of his albums. Lots of honky tonk infused into heartfelt ballads (Jesse Winchester's "A Showman's Life"), upbeat rockers (the Everly Brothers' "The Price of Love"), rural hillbilly ("Wild Card"), and a stray soul cover (Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love"). Emmylou Harris, whose band he plays in, adds backing vocals. Wife Julie does as well, and also contributes four songs in addition to co-writing three others. Old pals like songwriter Jim Lauderdale, Tammy Rogers on fiddle, and Al Perkins handling steel guitar also make appearances. But even though he's following his own blueprint, Miller never just goes through the motions, making this one of his most consistent and enjoyable works. The couple successfully shifts gears by delving into traditional Cajun on "Oh Fait Pitié d'Amour" and acoustic jazz/blues with standup bass on the Mayfield cover. The tracks range from playful on a silly but jaunty "Little Bitty Kiss" to serious on the somber and stark closing "Quecreek," a song written and recorded a few hours after the rescue of workers at the titular mine. Miller teams up with Vigilantes of Love frontman Bill Mallonee for "Water When the Well Is Dry," a crackling country-rocker and one of the most powerful and catchy tunes he has recorded. Established fans will be thrilled by this rugged and rootsy addition to his catalog. Those who haven't experienced Buddy Miller's grits-and-honey voice, inventive guitar playing, and gutsy no-frills country approach can start their collections here.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/15/2002
Label:
Hightone Records
UPC:
0012928814928
catalogNumber:
8149
Rank:
265793

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Midnight and Lonesome 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Miller's fourth solo album for Hightone features the same canny mix of originals and covers as his previous three, along with the harmonies and songwriting of his wife, Julie. But as fine as their new songs are, the tracks that really give away the duo's roots are the covers. This time out, the Miller's cover The Everly Brothers, Percy Mayfield and Jesse Winchester. The effortlessness with which the Millers' combine country, folk, blues and rock is as impressive as ever. ¶ The Millers recast The Everlys' "The Price of Love" with swampy reverb-growling guitar and husband and wife harmonies more pointed than the originals. Percy Mayfield's 1950 R&B classic, "Please Send Me Someone to Love" is a perfect match for Miller's soulful delivery and a beautifully balanced organ and acoustic-guitar arrangement. Similarly, Miller draws deeply on the emotional of Jesse Winchester's pained first-person examination of life on the road, "A Showman's Life." The latter, an older album cut, shows off not only Buddy Miller's ability to cover a song, but his golden ears for picking material. ¶ The eight new songs, written mostly by Buddy & Julie (or Julie solo), range from twangy details of love's reforming effects ("Wild Card"), to devastating, clinging memories of love lost ("I Can't Get Over You," featuring a duet vocal from Lee Ann Womack). "Midnight and Lonesome" distills the Millers' mountain influences, while the same fiddle-driven sound finds happier times on "Little Bitty Kiss." Fats Kaplin's accordion creates the Cajun-style on "Oh Fait Pitie D'amour." ¶ While the breadth of musical ground the Millers cover follows a map similar to their previous outings, the result retains the same high level of vitality and freshness. Their's is a rich strike, capped in this chapter by Julie Miller's of-the-moment ode to the rescued miners of "Quecreek." It's difficult to pick any one of the Millers' albums as "best," but this one is certainly representative of their unique artistry, and another fine chapter in their songbook. ¶ 4-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings.