The Upshot: Live album captures the multi-talented Miller and his special guests hanging out and playing a set of great old (or semi-old) country tunes out on the high seas.
BY MICHAEL BERICK
Listening to this CD is like eavesdropping on an all-star picking party. Recorded at the most recent Cayamo music cruises, the disc captures the multi-talented Buddy Miller and his special guests hanging out and playing a set of great old (or semi-old) country tunes.
Miller recreates some classic Nashville duets by teaming up with Lee Ann Womack on “After The Fire Is Gone,” Nikki Lane on “Just Someone I Used To Know” and Elizabeth Cook on “If Teardrops Were Pennies” although their renditions shed some of the originals’ Countrypolitan gloss. He also creates a new one by turning Don Williams’ “Come Early Morning” into a charming duet with Jill Andrews.
Ever the considerate host, Miller frequently cedes center stage to his guests. Kacey Musgraves lights up the Buck Owens’ honky tonk gem “Love’s Gonna Live Here,” while Shawn Colvin gives a spare, soulful reading of “Wild Horses.” Lucinda Williams’ stirring version of “Hickory Wind” wrings the blues out of that Gram Parsons’ songs. Another of the disc’s real treats is hearing Richard Thompson put his distinctive stamp on the Hank Williams hit “Wedding Bells.”
Not every performance is a cover, however. Kris Krisofferson’s craggy vocals well suits his hangdog classic “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” while Doug Seegers leads a spirited run through his “Take The Hand Of Jesus.”
The disc ends on a high note with Brandi Carlile and the Lone Bellow joining Miller for a rousing version of that Americana “spiritual” – John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery.” Then, all too quickly, the party is over. Like many a good party, you wish it would have last longer (the other minor qualm is that there isn’t a mention of when the specific songs were recorded). But hopefully this disc will be first of an ongoing series of Cayamo recordings.