I write this with not a little trepidation.
It’s not that I don’t like this new album. I do … by a good length, in horse racing parlance. It’s just that I don’t want to promote the Cayamo cruise too much. I’ve been following the line-ups for the cruise which, for one week each year, hosts some of the best singers and songwriters in country, Americana, folk and roots music.
Some friends have been regulars and my wife and I are going to try to get on board in 2017. This however may not be easy as it sells out each cruise and you have to rely on a wait list. So, I don’t want even more competition by promoting it. So I won’t.
Over the last few years, guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer Buddy Miller set up a recording studio on the ship and recorded and played with a bunch of friends. That’s how Buddy Miller & Friends’ Cayamo Sessions At Sea (due January 29, 2016 on New West Records) came about.
In 2012, Miller brought along some recording gear on board and set up a studio in the ship’s library where he and co-host and lifelong friend Jim Lauderdale recorded episodes for their SiriusXM Outlaw Country Buddy & Jim Radio Show. Happy with the results, he brought more gear, and an engineer, and set up a temporary recording studio.
Eleven musical moments recorded on the 2014 and 2015 voyages are with Kris Kristofferson, Lucinda Williams, Kacey Musgraves, Richard Thompson, Lee Ann Womack, Shawn Colvin, Nikki Lane, Brandi Carlile, Jill Andrews, Elizabeth Cook, The Lone Bellow and Doug Seegers.
The album’s highlights are many – Buddy doing duets with some of the best female singers around – Lee Ann Womack on the Loretta Lynn/Conway Twitty country classic “After The Fire Is Gone”, Kacey Musgraves on Buck Owens’ jaunty “Love’s Gonna Live Here”, the Dolly Parton/Porter Wagoner standard “Just Someone I Used To Know” with Nikki Lane, “If Teardrops Were Pennies” alongside Elizabeth Cook and “Come Early Morning” with Jill Andrews. Those beautiful voices blend so well with Miller’s and the arrangements and production, as you would expect from Buddy Miller, are perfectly set.
There are other treats as well – Lucinda Williams’ still and beautiful rendition of Gram Parsons’ “Hickory Wind”, Brandi Carlile combining with folk-rock trio The Lone Bellow to put together a vibrant version of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” and British folk great Richard Thompson puts forward a strident version of Hank Williams’ “Wedding Bells”. I love Doug Seegers’ voice (it has a certain charming ‘yip’ to it) and he and Miller have fun with “Take The Hand Of Jesus”.
To round things out are Kris Kristofferson doing his classic song, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and Shawn Colvin offering up The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses”. I admit when I saw the latter on the track list, I was unsure whether I was ready for another version of that song, having heard it so many times over the years, but Colvin’s is a sparkling (and even longer!) take with so much taste and class in the accompaniments to make it worthwhile.
It is a compilation of many artists and usually with such a collection. there’s more variability than a single artist(s)’ album. But Miller’s presence, both behind and in front of the mixing desk, is interlaced throughout providing a cohesion that you often don’t get with so many contributing elements.
There you have it dear reader. Buddy Miller & Friends’ Cayamo Sessions At Sea is a celebration of talented people sharing songs they love and cherish, all gift wrapped with sublime artistry and pristine production values.
Like most things associated with Buddy Miller – it’s all class.
As for the cruise, no comment!
Buddy Miller & Friends – Cayamo Sessions At Sea