Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale, Max Gomez 

When: Wed., Feb. 27, 8 p.m. 2013

What: I doubt there are any two folks in Nashville who can match Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale when it comes to consistently making well-crafted, handmade-sounding music over the past couple of decades, in the process subverting formulas and pushing stylistic borders. They’re good friends—they cohost an outlaw-country show on satellite radio, they’ve written songs together, and they’ve appeared on each other’s recordings—so it was just a matter of time before they paired up for an entire album. Buddy & Jim (New West), released last December, does everything you’d expect from these two, which is to say it’s wonderful. The backup band is great, and Miller produced the record, capturing the sound of old-school country with unfussy clarity. Most of the 11 songs are rooted in honky-tonk, but many of the best reflect the investment in 60s soul that’s long distinguished both Miller and Lauderdale, including a scrappy cover of Joe Tex’s “I Want to Do Everything for You” and the powerful ballad “That’s Not Even Why I Love You,” written with Miller’s wife Julie, which sounds like something Carole King might’ve come up with for Aretha Franklin. The brisk “Vampire Girl,” which turns a haunting object of desire into a centuries-old blood-sucking apparition, pairs a typically surprising Lauderdale melody with a New Orleans rumba beat and features lacerating fiddle and woozy pedal steel; an adaptation of the Mississippi Sheiks jug-band classic “Lonely One in This Town” gets a wonderful ramshackle arrangement with rustic violin and clattery percussion. Buddy & Jim is relatively predictable, considering who made it, but this concert won’t follow suit—these are the sort of guys who can toss the script onstage and take off in any direction. I’m sure I’ll be happy no matter what they do. —Peter Margasak Max Gomez opens.

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