Emmylou Harris

SPYBOY – 1998 (Eminent)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

Emmylou Harris is not only an influential figure in country music history, but she continues to expand on her legend by producing innovative music.With this (SPYBOY is also the name of her band) live disc, Harris revisits many of her past tunes. Early classics such as "Love Hurts" (on which co-producer Buddy Miller takes Gram Parsons' duet role) and "Boulder to Birmingham" do not stray far from the original. Others, such as "Born to Run" and Rodney Crowell's "Ain't Living Long" have a harder edge than before.

The influence of Daniel Lanois, who produced Harris' 1995 Grammy winner "Wrecking Ball," is in evidence on several tracks. Harris and guitarist Miller are joined by Lanois' usual rhythm section of drummer Brady Blade and bassist Daryl Johnson. Some arrangements are reminiscent of Lanois' work with the band U2 ("Where Will I Be" and "Deeper Well"), and the only song Harris performs here she had not previously recorded is Lanois' "The Maker." Other highlights include the Parsons/Chris Hillman composition "Wheels" and the a cappella "Calling My Children Home."

Harris' voice remains as engaging as ever, and she seems equally at ease with traditional country arrangements or on more experimental tunes. This will certainly satisfy fans of Harris and create anticipation for her future endeavors.