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Buddy and Julie Miller: Written in Chalk (New West)

Out March 3 is the first full-length collaboration from husband and wife Buddy and Julie Miller since the exceptional eponymous album they released in 2001. Like Buddy and Julie Miller, Written in Chalk features a feast of beautifully written roots-based songs (almost all are by Julie) and the pair’s passionate, harmonious vocals, but this album has a different feel from its predecessor, and that tone is set from the lead track; “Ellis County” begins the album with Buddy counting off, before launching into a wistful, heartfelt look back at country life in Julie’s mother’s childhood: “Take me back, when times were hard, but we didn’t know it…” There’s a degree of melancholy to many of the songs that seems appropriate to the times. That said, rocking blues songs like the first single, “Gasoline and Matches,” lighten the mood, as does the amusing duet Buddy sings with tour-mate Robert Plant, “What You Gonna Do, Leroy.” Miller’s method of recording at home is conducive to really relaxed, enjoyable recordings; look for a feature about the process in the April issue of Mix.

Must Play: “Ellis County”

Producer/engineer: Buddy Miller. Studio: Dogtown Studios, Nashville.

—Barbara Schultz