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Music Review: Rootsy harmonies and spiritual uplift from Buddy and Julie Miller on 'In the Throes'

This cover image released by New West Records shows “In the Throes” by Buddy and Julie Miller. (New West Records via AP)

Buddy and Julie Miller have been wed for 40 years. Their latest album, “In the Throes,” celebrates the marvelous marriage of his rustic, raspy tenor and her eternally youthful alto.

The 12-song set, which will be released Friday is filled with the Tennessee duo’s rootsy harmonies that bridge genres and are a model of an equal partnership. At times, either vocal line could be the melody, as with some Everly Brothers songs.

The Millers also shine singing solo. Buddy’s at his plaintive, full-throated best on the ballads “Don’t Make Her Cry” and “I’ll Never Live It Down,” which showcase the Ohio native as a Southern soul man. His distinctive electric guitar work is equally compelling.

Julie takes the lead vocal on “I’ve Been Around,” a delightful slice of bluesy bravado, dissonance and distortion punctuated by her antic shouts of “Hey! Hey!” She says the song came to her in her sleep, and she awoke to record it immediately in one take, which is just how it sounds.

By contrast, “Don’t Make Her Cry” required years to complete – Julie, Bob Dylan and Regina McCrary passed it around and share composing credit.

Julie is the sole songwriter on the other cuts, and there’s a recurring spiritual strain. “Niccolo” mixes sweet and savory pop and finds comfort in angels, while “The Last Bridge You Will Cross” pays reverent tribute to the late Rep. John Lewis for making love a weapon. The infectious country gospel singalong “We’re Leavin’” offers uplift, as does the simple ballad “I Love You,” where the Millers harmonize about the permanent bond that is a happy marriage.


AP music reviews:

Steven Wine, The Associated Press

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