Those of you interested in this series must have given up on me by now. You shouldn't have. I was resting, that's all. With Emmylou due to return to Manchester soon, it's an apt moment for me to return to the Emmylou Review. I left off in 1994 (with Cowgirl's Prayer), so I'll take up the story - logically - in the following year.
1995 - Wrecking Ball
This album was seen as a major change of direction for Emmylou, and in a way it was. She was backed here by a different kind of sound - produced by Daniel Lanois, who had come from working with Bob Dylan and U2, amongst others. This was no longer your regular country music, or country rock, instrumentation. Whether Emmylou's old fans found the change welcome or not, the album is outstanding. It has several great tracks, including covers of songs by Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch; and it has, above all, this song written by Lanois himself. It is a song of genius, a small masterpiece, music as poetry: 'Blackhawk and the white winged dove'; 'Where the truth bites and stings'; 'Hold on to your aching heart'; 'Now we drink at Liberty Station / Another cup of muscatel / Wrapped in the strong arms of the Union / Raisin' kids from raisin' hell.'
If you haven't got it, get it. Listen. It's just one more high point in a brilliant career. The only surprise to me about Wrecking Ball is that, as many times as I've heard it, I cannot avoid placing in the runner-up spot a song by Anna McGarrigle.
Top track: Blackhawk. Runner-up: Goin' Back To Harlan. Bubbling-unders: Goodbye; Sweet Old World; Orphan Girl.