Graham Reid | | 1 min read
The crystalline quality of Emmylou Harris' voice is often so admired that people can look past that she is also a great interpreter of a lyric and has effortlessly brought traditional or familiar songs together with her originals.
This time out she calls on kindred spirits (the McGarrigle sisters, Mike Auldridge, Buddy Miller) with her band which includes keyboard player Glenn D Hardin, drummer Harry Stinson, slide guitarist Greg Leisz and others on a collection of material by Patty Griffin (the gorgeous Moon Song), Tracy Chapman, Merle Haggard and Billy Joe Shaver (his classic Old Five and Dimers Like Me). And a set of excellent originals.
Harris always traverses emotional territory (the stunning closer Beyond the Great Divide is as moving a funeral ballad as you will ever hear) and yet she does it with poise where the breaking heart is just kept in check.
Here her Broken Man's Lament references A Whiter Shade of Pale and Patsy Cline in a sad ballad of a working man who caged his wife and her dreams, and lost her.
Elsewhere there are songs of equal power and deep emotion (her original Gold with Dolly Parton and Vince Gill for example), and of course that is exactly what you expect and want from this woman whose songs take you on a journey.
And bring you home again.