Texas-born Julie Miller has what I guess you’d call a love it or hate it voice. She sort of sounds like a cross between kindred spirit and friend Victoria Williams and singer-songwriter Jill Sobule. Her 1997 album Blue Pony showed a promising songwriter whose voice can seem a bit precious in the quieter moments.
Fortunately, her husband and co-producer, Buddy Miller, helps flesh out the sound a bit more on Broken Things with his terrific guitar playing and backup singing. And the guest list includes a couple of Buddy’s recent employers: Steve Earle (mandolin on “All My Tears” and vocals on the weird, bluesy “Strange Lover”) and Emmylou Harris (on the haunting “Broken Things” and the traditional “Two Soldiers”). Patty Griffin also makes an appearance, supplying terrific harmonies on the quiet and beautiful “I Still Cry.” And the aforementioned Victoria Williams sings with Julie on “Orphan Train.” Surprisingly, their voices don’t mesh quite as well as you might think, or as well as they do on the Rolling Creekdippers track on the recent Gram Parsons tribute album Return of the Grievous Angel .
The best tracks prove to be the ones where Buddy and Julie harmonize together, as on the opening country-rocker “Ride the Wind to Me” and “Out in the Rain,” or the bluesy rock stomp “I Need You.” They allow Julie’s one of a kind voice to truly shine.
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