Cayamo Ses­sions at Sea Buddy Miller and Friends NewWest/Warner

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Polly Coufos

The an­nual eight-day Cayamo cruise has be­come some­thing of an in­sti­tu­tion for per­form­ers and fans alike over the past decade. Cayamo, on its ninth voy­age this week, has main­tained an im­pres­sive roots line-up with a strong coun­try bent.

Reg­u­lar Cayamo per­former Buddy Miller set up a makeshift record­ing stu­dio on board and this col­lec­tion gives a taste of what was cap­tured in this un­usual but idyl­lic set­ting in 2014 and 2015. With a mix of solid veter­ans in­clud­ing Richard Thomp­son, Lucinda Wil­liams and Kris Kristof­fer­son and spir­ited up-and-com­ers in­clud­ing Kacey Mus­graves, El­iz­a­beth Cook and Nikki Lane, Miller and his guests re­work prime coun­try clas­sics from the 1950s to the 70s.

Fea­tur­ing frill-free ar­range­ments that rely on noth­ing but top-shelf ma­te­rial and tal­ent, they slide through hits made fa­mous by the likes of Dolly and Porter, Con­way and Loretta, Hank and Don Wil­liams, Gram Par­sons, John Prine and many more. Miller stars but also read­ily shines the spot­light on his guests. Lane’s con­fi­dent at­ti­tude oozes out of Just Some­one I Used to Know while coun­try mu­sic’s bright­est hope Mus­graves de­lights on Buck Owens’s Love’s Gonna Live Here and Jill An­drews and Miller turn Come Early Mornin’ into a clas­sic duet.

Against those up­beat of­fer­ings, Lucinda Wil­liams sounds al­most over­awed by Hick­ory Wind in a per­for­mance that makes for un­com­fort­able, yet re­ward­ing, lis­ten­ing. Thomp­son’s English stiff up­per lip is prac­ti­cally quiv­er­ing as he be­comes sub­merged in the mis­ery of Wed­ding Bells. Shawn Colvin of­fers a ten­der take on ar­guably Jag­ger-Richards’s best bal­lad, Wild Horses, that matches just about any other ver­sion, the Stones’ in­cluded. Great artists, great songs, great per­for­mances (OK, Kris Kristof­fer­son, aside). Here’s hop­ing Buddy is record­ing the next vol­ume as you read this.

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