Sunday, February 8, 2009

Emmylou: As Slow, Sad, and Beautiful as Ever

Someone once said that Allison Krauss could sing the phone book and it would be beautiful. True. I submit that if Emmylou Harris sang the phone book, you would end up feeling like you knew the people she sang about and even more, you would empathize with them. I mean really, can anyone sing about buying someone a crescent wrench without sounding silly? Emmylou can.

Now her 2008 release, All I Intended to Be is certainly not the kind of adventurous and remarkable album, that say Wrecking Ball was. The songs are all straightforward constructions, with a standard country feel and sung at Harris' favorite tempo: slllllooooooowww. That said, it is a beautiful album with spacious arrangements that allows you to hear the wonderful warm tone of Emmylou's voice and the sincerity of her singing.

The tunes include a few originals and collaborations with Kate and Anna McGarrigle, but there is also a healthy dose of covers here, including tunes by Merle Haggard, Tracy Chapman to Patty Griffin, but all fit together well in a landscape painted with personal history, self-reflection and the lessons of life. Standard Emmylou--picking great songs and weaving them together as if they all belonged there.

This is definitely a sit on the porch and watch the sun go down kind of album--there is no dancing around to Bill Monroe tunes here. So settle in and take a listen if you haven't.

Hold On
Kern River

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