Record Review - 1 September 25 2002

Buddy Miller has found a comfortable niche. Structurally, he is as predictable as the morning sun: Find some obscure old tunes to cover, cut a bunch of Julie's introspective and powerful songs, and do them all "Buddy Miller" style.

But that's the catch: There is only one Buddy Miller — that smooth, soulful voice, those signature guitar licks, that uncanny ear for a great tune. Starting with his stunning 1995 HighTone debut, Your Love and Other Lies, Miller's last three solo albums have maintained a high standard of excellence.

Miller's fourth HighTone release, Midnight And Lonesome, follows his previous pattern closely. And while it initially sounds like a repeat of the past, that familiarity is one of the qualities that work to its advantage.

Joined by wife Julie and Emmylou Harris on backup vocals, as well as members of Harris' Spyboy band, Miller makes good use of his resources. Midnight opens with an edgy take on the Everly Brothers' "The Price of Love," then continues through a showcase of country, folk and Cajun styles. He throws in a curve ball on the unusual "When It Comes to You," which features the calliope-like sounds of an obscure keyboard instrument called an optigan. Closing with the timely and spiritual "Quecreek," Julie's tribute to the nine miners in Pennsylvania, Miller acknowledges and celebrates his faith in an honest, thoughtful manner.

Midnight and Lonesome is like a new pair of slippers — different than the old ones, but just as comfortable after a little use.

Buddy and Julie Miller play the Variety Playhouse Sat., Sept. 28.??