It's time I brought this to a conclusion. So here's my judgement, for what it's worth, on the next three Emmylou albums after Wrecking Ball (reviewed last time). I'm bound to say that I don't think these albums, as a group, are in the same class as those from Emmylou's best period. But that's a tough benchmark. Take them just on their own and the standard remains high.
1998 - Spyboy
The best of the three in my own view. It's a live album, reprising familiar Emmylou songs; they are therefore without the initial excitement of when you hear her deliver them first up. And 'Boulder to Birmingham', one of her greatest songs, isn't the equal here of the version on Pieces of the Sky. Yet there is some terrific stuff. 'Love Hurts', which Emmylou first did with Gram Parsons and is a love-hurting song second to none, and 'Green Pastures' both get harmony and instrumental backings that hold you rapt.
Top track: Love Hurts. Runner-up: Green Pastures. Bubbling-unders: Prayer In Open D; Boulder To Birmingham.
2000 - Red Dirt Girl
This album, for its part, has too many songs that I think of as being 'brown': meaning that the melody doesn't go anywhere much; there's not enough bright or dark, not enough soaring and sobbing. Still, there are two songs good enough for the top spots.
Top track: One Big Love. Runner-up: My Antonia.
2003 - Stumble into Grace
Some of the same tendency here as on Red Dirt Girl, but there's more contrast and there are three first-rate tracks that I find it extremely difficult to put any real space between. Fine album, but as I started by saying, not like before.
Top track: Can You Hear Me Now. Runner-up: Jupiter Rising. Bubbling-unders: Cup Of Kindness.
And, this being the Youtube era, here's a bonus: Emmylou Harris singing Green Pastures, with Gillian Welsh and David Rawlings doing harmony vocals, and Jerry Douglas nonpareil.