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Album Review

This was a long time coming; given its relaxed execution, one wonders what took so long. Old Yellow Moon is an album of duets between Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. He was a rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist in her Hot Band in the mid-'70s. After he left, he continued contributing songs to her recordings for nearly two decades. This marks a reunion of more than just Harris and Crowell. Brian Ahern, who produced her early Warner recordings helms these sessions with Hot Band members James Burton, John Ware, and Bill Payne making appearances, as well as heavy hitters Vince Gill, Stuart Duncan, and Steuart Smith, to name a few. Though recorded in Nashville, the sound of this recording is posited somewhere between the Southern California country sound of the early '70s and some of Music City's more adventurous sounds in the middle and late years of that decade. The song choices are as eclectic as one would expect. Some of the set's highlights include a smokin' redo of "Bluebird Wine," which appeared as the opening cut on Harris' classic Pieces of the Sky album. This version has some fine-tuned lyrics in the first two verses — Crowell was only 21 when he wrote it. The readings of Roger Miller's "Invitation to the Blues" and Allen Reynolds' "Dreaming My Dreams" are beautifully executed standards. There are three excellent cuts here by Hank DeVito, another original member of the Hot Band. They include the midtempo, hard country opener "Hanging Up My Heart," the bluesy "Black Caffeine," and the title cut, a lilting waltz that closes the record. Crowell also contributed "Open Season on My Heart" (originally recorded by Tim McGraw), the languid pedal steel honky tonk ballad "Here We Are," and the back porch "Bull Rider." Kris Kristofferson's "Chase the Feeling" is given a rumbling, punchy, country-rock treatment here. Harris largely goes it alone on Patti Scialfa's "Spanish Dancer," in a radically different reading than the songwriter's, but Gill's gut string guitar, Jim Hoke's spare accordion, and Crowell's hushed harmony on the chorus offer a more picaresque take. The only misstep here should have been a natural: Matraca Berg's wonderful "Back When We Were Beautiful," recorded by the songwriter in 1997, feels forced; it lacks the stark drama of the original, replacing it instead it with a nostalgia that isn't true to the song. While this doesn't carry the weight of an "historic" recording, it is thoroughly enjoyable. Harris is in better voice than she's been in years and Crowell is a natural as a duet partner. Let's hope they consider Old Yellow Moon more than just a one-off, "bucket list" album.

Customer Reviews

Great album

What a great album all the songs are great - here we are - spanish dancer - hanging up the moon some of the best

"Here We Are"

I've just loved listening to Emmylou for many years going back to the vinyl days. This album is just fantastic. Just loved "Here We Are"

Old Yellow Moon

While not the best Emmylou album ever, it's still one of the best recent country releases, I think two of the best tracks are "Dreamin' my Dreams" and "Invitation to the Blues", with the title track a close third, then " Here We Are" is also worth a spin

Biography

Born: 02 April 1947 in Birmingham, AL

Genre: Country

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Though other performers sold more records and earned greater fame, few had as profound an impact on contemporary music as Emmylou Harris. Blessed with a crystalline voice, a remarkable gift for phrasing, and a restless creative spirit, she traveled a singular artistic path, proudly carrying the torch of "cosmic American music" passed down by her mentor, Gram Parsons. With the exception of only Neil Young — not surprisingly an occasional collaborator — no other mainstream star established...
Full Bio
Old Yellow Moon, Emmylou Harris
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  • $14.99
  • Genres: Country, Music, Americana
  • Released: 22 February 2013

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