Buddy Miller has worked with and provided material for some of the most prominent names in country music, including Emmy lou Harris, Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams. The Dixie Chicks and Brooks & Dunn have covered his songs; Grammy winner Shawn Colvin maintains that “there’s absolutely no one like Buddy anywhere.” Still, he remains an unknown to many country lovers.
Written in Chalk (New West) is an iridescent disc by Buddy and his wife, Julie, herself a distinctive singer-songwriter. The Millers concoct harmony that’s equal parts honey and whiskey. “Gasoline and Matches” celebrates love with a bump and grind that is as incendiary as the title, while “Memphis Jane” rides the rusty rails of a downtuned, snarly honky-tonk guitar. The song spotlights a female drifter who changes first names like soiled blouses: “She wants to ride, but she ain’t going nowhere / She wants to ride, but she don’t even know where.”