Emmylou Harris, "Hard Bargain"

"I'm a bit run down, but I'm OK." The words are Ron Sexsmith's, but there's a reason why Emmylou Harris made his "Hard Bargain" the title track of her latest album. The 13-track set, produced by Jay Joyce, assures us that she's more than OK, with a still-luminous voice that can make the phone book sound like Puccini. Harris, who co-wrote 11 tracks with Will Jennings, offers moving elegies to absent friends Gram Parsons ("The Road") and Kate McGarrigle ("Darlin' Kate"), as well as a musical high five to the Crescent City in the gently rocking "New Orleans." The ballad "My Name Is Emmett Till" revisits the horrors of the pre-civil rights era, and the waltz-time "Goodnight Old World" celebrates unexpected new love. Elsewhere, Harris muses on solitary life in "Lonely Girl" and "Nobody" and chronicles wartime separation in "The Ship on His Arm." She gets her twang on for the songs "Six White Cadillacs" and "Big Black Dog," while "Cross Yourself" closes the album on a soulful and deservedly triumphant note.

- Album Review


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