The Majestic Silver Strings

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Americana mainstay Buddy Miller has built a career dwelling on the fringes of country music. He’s as far out on the edge as ever with his latest project, on which Buddy and noted guests reconstruct a selection of country classics. All of the ace musicians featured on the disc are known for coloring outside stylistic lines; here, they transform Nashville into a slightly alien realm, bringing an ethereal tone to chestnuts from Eddy Arnold’s “Cattle Call” to Roger Miller’s “Dang Me.” On the latter, Buddy and company strip away the devil-may-care humor of Miller’s 1964 original, strikingly revealing the pathos inside the song‘s lyric. While the mood is lifted with covers of George Jones and Lefty Frizzell tunes, the album is dominated by darker and more complicated emotions, as on “Meds,” which effectively casts Lee Ann Womack as a patient in a mental institution. Frankly, traditional-minded listeners will wonder if the whole crew shouldn’t be committed, as this quirky affair—depending on your perspective—is either brilliant or crazy.

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