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Emmylou Harris

Portraits – 1996 (Reprise Archives)

Reviewed by Paula Williams

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CDs by Emmylou Harris

In the 1970's, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris brought the heart and history of country music to rock when it seemed missing from Nashville. Through the 1990's, she's still respecting tradition in contemporary music. The evidence lies in "Portraits," the 3-CD set chronicling her work from 1974-1992.

In roughly chronological order, the many aspects of Emmylou Harris's career are recalled,from her work with Parsons to the bluegrass of "Roses In The Snow" to the outlaw spirit of "The Legend of Jesse James" to the Appalachianesque "Trio" with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt toher Opry homage in "Live At The Ryman." But although an excellent overview to Harris's career, long-time fans may be slightly disappointed with the song selection. Popular albums like "Elite Hotel" and "Bluebird" are almost over-represented, while elusive treasures such as "Cimarron" and "The Ballad of Sally Rose" only offer a song apiece. "Gliding Bird" and "Thirteen" are missing, though both are documented in Colin Escott's excellent liner notes (aside from the en masse listing of performers rather than by song or even by album).

On the plus side, six unreleased tracks grace the set, including a cover of Richard Thompson's"Dimming of the Day," and a fitting "When I Paint My Masterpiece" that make the set worth its price. All in all, "Portraits" owners should have "No Regrets."