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Emmylou Harris

Red Dirt Girl  Hear it Now

RS: 2.5of 5 Stars Average User Rating: 5of 5 Stars

2005

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It's telling that Emmylou Harris' new record company is a predominantly classical-music label. By now, Harris is a high-end institution: enduring and refined. Her ethereal voice, with its silken core and ragged edges, is the perfect delivery system for the tastefully chosen songs she has purveyed for three decades. On her latest, the singer who brought country music to intellectuals and intellect to country music has distilled her justifiably well-regarded chops into a smooth-running singer-songwriter machine. This collection of mostly originals, her first since 1985's The Ballad of Sally Rose, is swamped in beauty: swooning vocal harmonies; delicate poetics; lilting Celticisms. Down-home recording touches -- the squeak of a finger on a guitar string; "one-two-three-four" song countdowns -- attest to the just-folks poise of Harris and her band. But Red Dirt Girl is stiflingly exquisite. The songs, lovely as they are, are emotional dead ends, clear-eyed odes to transcendence or heartfelt expressions of empathy -- dewy with biblical and poetic borrowings, free of tension, excitement or ambiguity. If Emmylou Harris was ever a product of the rich red Southern soil, all the grit has washed off by now. (RS 850)


ARION BERGER



(Posted: Sep 28, 2000)

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