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Buddy Miller

The Majestic Silver Strings (New West)

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., March 11, 2011

Phases & Stages

Buddy Miller

The Majestic Silver Strings (New West)

Buddy Miller can do no wrong. Just ask Robert Plant, Patty Griffin, and Emmylou Harris. Although this collection of classic country sprinkled with a couple of originals features an extraordinarily talented assemblage of musical collaborators, it never coalesces into anything above average. Besides Miller, the Majestic Silver Strings are Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, and Greg Leisz, top of the heap guitarists whose combined résumés swing from Tom Waits and John Zorn to Steve Earle and Vic Chesnutt. Add guest vocals from Griffin, Harris, Shawn Colvin, Lee Ann Womack, and Ann McCrary, and it seems almost impossible to make a mess. That's when there's a couple too many attempts at atmospheric and far too little of the expected guitar fireworks. The proceedings succumb under their own weight. Midway there's a swamp blues rewrite of Roger Miller's "Dang Me," sung by Chocolate Genius Marc Anthony Thompson, that completely misses the song's ridiculousness and ends up just being foolish. One bright spot is Julie Miller/Frisell set closer "God's Wing'ed Horse," performed by just the two Millers singing a gospel duet that twinkles with a simplicity that would have served the rest of the album well. Included in the package is a behind-the-scenes DVD with a revved-up video of Buddy Miller singing George Jones' "Why Baby Why."

**

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