Five years since his last solo album and nearly a decade since their last full album of combined efforts (though they each contribute on the other’s solo work), Buddy and Julie Miller are past due for a new set of tunes.
Their newly released Written in Chalk skillfully blends the talented couple with a living-room full of their highly competent friends for a magical 12-song journey.
Opening the record with a slight chuckle and a lone fiddle is Julie’s wistful Ellis Country, penned for “Mama.”
Gasoline and Matches sparks with a punchy duet vocal and heavily percussive music.
Next up is Don’t Say Goodbye, which sounds a long-lost cousin of “I Still Cry,” right down to Julie’s emotionally poignant vocals with support from Patty Griffin and piano by John Deaderick. Patty later returns to sing harmony with Buddy on the album’s namesake, Chalk.
Robert Plant lends a hand on Mel Tillis’ What You Gonna Do Leroy. Recorded in the band’s dressing room at a show in Toronto it could unsurprisingly masquerade as an outtake from Raising Sand – albeit minus Alison Krauss.
One Part, Two Part features Buddy singing with Regina McCrary, who also makes an appearance on Hush, Sorrow.
Both Every Time We Say Goodbye, with only Julie self-harmonizing and Deaderick’s piano and June, taped the night of June Carter Cash’s passing in 2003, are sparse and deeply sincere.
Memphis Jane, apparently a true story of a girl that hopped in Julie’s car and said “Drive!” is another duet between Buddy and Julie with Brady Blade and Chris Donahue on the rhythm section.
Closing the record is The Selfishness In Man, written by Leon Payne is highlighted by Emmylou Harris’ graceful voice.
Any tour plans, as well as his scheduled shows with the Three Girls (Shawn Colvin, Emmylou and Patty) have been put on hold while Buddy recovers from his triple bypass surgery last month.