Buddy and Julie Miller, ‘Written in Chalk’ (New West)
We may never understand Buddy and Julie Miller’s relationship. Together since the mid-’80s, when he crashed an Austin, Texas band she was fronting, they’ve accompanied each other for two decades, yet this is only their second album as a duo. What’s more, Written in Chalk sounds like a breakup record, with the Millers (and guests Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, and Robert Plant) picking through an emotional boneyard of broken promises, shattered hearts, and spiritual uncertainty. In fact, most of the songs are so resolute (with the exception of the lusty “Gasoline and Matches”) that you can practically hear the back door slamming. If it’s not, then this long-married pair must have plenty of makeup sex.