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Friday, Feb. 1, 2013

Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale

Buddy and Jim (New West Records)

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In the crowded, mystical jungle of Nashville studio musicians, Buddy Miller may currently have rightful claim to the title of king. His guitar and various string work, production expertise and writing have all featured prominently in the work of Robert Plant, Levon Helm, Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello. This is to say nothing of his longstanding aid to Emmylou Harris or Steve Earle, tutelage to rising stars such as the Carolina Chocolate Drops, or the fact that—being a true industry pro, after all—he’s not above some schlocky lending to the likes of Brooks & Dunn.

Here though, his name goes on the cover, not just the liner notes. Buddy teams with longtime friend and fellow troubadour-of-twang Jim Lauderdale to offer the appropriately “aw shucks,” sepia-hued Buddy and Jim. It’s a loose, near-pedestrian front porch affair with which old friends might polish off a bottle of Beam. And as overused as the term may be, there’s not a much better word to define the results than “Americana.” The lyrics describe ventures to the swamp and the bar, with requisite stops at the train depot. Every song ends in what sounds like a solidly raving dance hall. But, like a reunion, it feels the best when the fellas get to carousing, moving, looking for trouble and mixing it up with the appropriate chugging boogie, distant fiddle and soaring Telecaster lines.
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