Friday Top 5: Buddy Miller

This week’s subject on the Friday Top 5 is none other than singer/songwriter/producer/guitarist, Buddy Miller. Buddy celebrated a birthday last weekend. Earlier this year, he celebrated being named Aritst of the Decade by No Depression magazine. Later this month, he’ll serve once again as leader of the house band at the Americana Honors and Awards show in Nashville. He is, afterall, the most nominated performer in the history of those awards.

Buddy Miller has worked with many different artists in many different capacities during the course of his career. He’s played in bands with Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Gurf Morlix, and Alison Krauss & Robert Plant. He’s produced albums for Solomon Burke, Allison Moorer, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore and played or sang on albums from Levon Helm, Kasey Chambers, Lori McKenna, Frank Black, The Chieftains, Trisha Yearwood, and Lee Ann Womack (to name a few). His songs have been recorded by Womack, The Dixie Chicks, Jim Lauderdale, and Patty Loveless.

Today, the focus is on Buddy’s solo work. Buddy has released a total of five albums on Hightone and New West Records (I’m choosing not to count 2001’s Buddy & Julie Miller… I’ll feature it later). All five are stellar recordings. That’s why I was a bit surprised to find that the five songs I selected for today came exclusively from 1999’s Cruel Moon and 2002’s Midnight & Lonesome.

I’ll start with the tracks from Cruel Moon

“Does My Ring Burn Your Finger” is my favorite Buddy Miller song, hands down. This was one of my first introductions to his music, and the classic country heartbreak contained within won me over.

“Love Match” was written by songwriter Paul Kennerly. In Buddy’s version (a duet with Steve Earle) you can begin to see that love gone wrong is a central theme of the album.

A slightly more hopeful take on love is offered up on “Looking for a Heartache Like You,” a song featuring co-writer Jim Lauderdale. I should note that Buddy’s wife, Julie Miller, also receives co-write credits on this and “Does My Ring Burn Your Finger.”

On now to Midnight & Lonesome

Buddy offers up more heartbreak on the Everly Brothers’ “The Price of Love.” “Wine is Sweet/And Gin is Bitter./Drink all you can/But you Won’t forget her.” That is the price of love… a debt paid in tears and pain. The song gets a rock & roll treatment from Buddy with backing vocals from Julie.

Finally, the title track from Midnight & Lonesome is another country weeper. This one was written by Julie.

Buddy Miller: Does My Ring Burn Your Finger (Buy Album)
Buddy Miller: Love Match (Buy Album)
Buddy Miller: Looking for a Heartache Like You (Buy Album)
Buddy Miller: The Price of Love (Buy Album)
Buddy Miller: Midnight & Lonesome (Buy Album)

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