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Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell

Old Yellow Moon – 2013 (Nonesuch)

Reviewed by Michael Verity

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CDs by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell

The good news is that Emmylou Harris' voice is as beautiful as always. She coming up on her 66th birthday here in another month, but her mastery of a song is still as soft and supple as a warm summer breeze. So, too, is Rodney Crowell's voice in as fine form as ever.

Hanging Up My Heart is one example of Emmylou in particularly good voice, and there's some nice solo work, to boot. Black Caffeine has a distinct grittiness to it, and Dreaming My Dream is a pretty tune. The sentimentality of Back When We Were Beautiful inspires one or two additional listenings, if only for the poignance of Harris' performance.

The bad news is there isn't more good news.

While servicable, the songs (in general) lack any great message or resounding existential punch. The arrangements are standard issue, and the accompaniment is workmanlike: nobody's hitting any wrong notes (but a wrong note or too might have spiced things up).

And sadly the production, mastered at a volume more appropriate for Maroon 5 than Crowell and Harris, lacks the warmth that best suits their voices (and, at times, seems to bury their voices almost entirely).

There are plenty of people who will buy this record (and many radio stations already getting on board), if only because of the reputation of the artists. For many, it will be a satisfying experience; for others, it might feel like there's a little something missing.