Buddy Miller

The Majestic Silver Strings

This isn’t a good album; this is a great album. How could it have turned out otherwise? With the incomparable Buddy Miller pulling together this super group of top-shelf string players—Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz—then adding guest appearances by Emmy Lou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, and Lee Ann Womack, this album was bound to soar. You know you’re in good hands from the first cut, a reinvention of “Cattle Call” that borders on the mystical. These are, indeed, majestic silver strings, and the majesty is in playing. We don’t use the word “maestro” to describe our journeyman players in genres like jazz and country, but these guys are maestros all. “Why I’m Walkin’,” sung by Harris, is as pretty a song as she’s ever done, and the guitars are shimmering and ethereal. “Return to Me,” the old Dean Martin hit, gets new life here, a sweet new rendition by Womack and the Majestic Silver Strings. The album closes with Buddy sharing vocals with his sister, Julie, on “God’s Winged Horse,” and it’s more likely to make you feel the spirit than a hundred preachers in a month of Sundays. It’s only March, but there’s not likely to be a better album this year, in any genre.