Emmylou Harris: Red Dirt Girl

(Elektra/Warners)

Herald rating: * * *

Review: Graham Reid

Country boys love the idea of honky-tonk whores but they always want the angels, and for more than three decades Harris has been one of the unsullied latter, married in spirit to the dead Jesus of country-rock, Gram Parsons.

Her Wrecking Ball five years ago almost took her out of the backup singer/duets pigeonhole.

Produced by Daniel Lanois it was sonic delight that complemented her often ethereal vocals.

Had Lanois been on hand here (it's his surrogate, Malcolm Burn) then we might have been looking at a perfect pair.

But this time out the songs aren't as strong - she wrote or co-wrote almost all, a rare thing from someone who is a scrupulous spotter of a gem-song or rough diamond to interpret - and the frisson of (re)discovery has worn off.

Not the satisfying whole of its illustrious and lustrous predecessor, but a red dirt angel nonetheless.

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