Emmylou Harris Wrecking Ball
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- Released: October 2, 1995
- Label: Asylum Records
Rolling Stone - 11/16/95, p.1103.5 Stars - Good - "...Harris floats in some netherland amid country, rock and folk. Her latest album turns this stylistic ambiguity into a stunning virtue....a wrenching collection of songs that merges popular and historical styles like a 1990s rethink of the Band..."
Entertainment Weekly - 9/26/95, p.60"...the biggest stretch of her career....the album plucks Harris from the safe ground of pristine country ballads and acoustic rave-ups and plops her squarely in the middle of idiosyncratic, New Age-y pop rock..." - Rating: A-
Q - 2/96, p.64Included in Q's 50 Best Albums of 1995 - "...a timely reminder of just how fabulous a singer Emmylou Harris is..."
Musician - 11/95, p.87"...nothing in Harris' catalog prepares a listener for the leap she takes....[she] nudges her vocals gingerly into places as if completing a complex jigsaw puzzle....There are moments...that approximate...fleeting epiphany....WRECKING BALL isn't 'country music,' not by a long shot..."
Village Voice (2/20/96) - Ranked #12 in Village Voice's 1995 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.
Mojo (Publisher) - 12/00, p.41"...She steps off the edge into heavy rhythm tracks and instruments deployed as atmospheric noise while attention focuses on her voice - reaching low, straining high, letting elegance take care of itself..."
New York Times (Publisher) - 1/6/96, p.C16Included on Stephen Holden's list of the Top 10 Albums of '95 - "...eerie, atmospheric collaboration....a queen of country steps down from her pedestal to sing...with a frayed urgency..."
- 1.Where Will I Be
- 3.All My Tears
- 4.Wrecking Ball
- 5.Going Back To Harlan
- 6.Deeper Well
- 7.Every Grain Of Sand
- 8.Sweet Old World
- 9.May This Be Love
- 10.Orphan Girl
- 12.Waltz Across Texas Tonight
Personnel: Emmylou Harris (vocals, acoustic guitar); Daniel Lanois (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, dulcimer, bass, percussion); Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams (acoustic guitar); Richard Bennett (guitar); Malcolm Burn (slide guitar, piano, organ, keyboards, synthesizer, vibraphone, bass, drums, tom-tom, tambourine, background vocals); Neil Young (harmonica, background vocals); Daryl Johnson (keyboards, bass, tom-tom, percussion, background vocals); Tony Hall (bass, stick drum, shaker); Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums, hand drum, cymbal); Brian Blade (drums, Indian hand drum); Sam O'Sullivan (roto wheel); Kufaru Mouton (percussion); Kate McGarrigle, Anna McGarrigle (background vocals).
Engineers include: Malcolm Burn, Sandy Jenkins, Mark Howard.
Recorded at Woodland Studios, Nashville, Tennessee; Kingsway Studio, New Orleans, Louisiana; Natoma, San Francisco, California.
All tracks have been digitally mastered using HDCD technology.
WRECKING BALL won a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
Personnel: Emmylou Harris (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar); Daniel Lanois (chant, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, dulcimer, mandolin, percussion); Darryl Johnson (chant, keyboard bass, tom tom); Steve Earle (guitar, acoustic guitar); Lucinda Williams (acoustic guitar); Malcolm Burn (slide guitar, piano, vibraphone, drums, tambourine); Neil Young (harmonica); Tony Hall (drums, shaker); Larry Mullen, Jr., Brian Blade (drums).
Audio Mixers: Malcolm Burn; Mark Howard.
Editor: Trina Shoemaker.
Photographers: Jim Merrill; Bob Lanois.
Unknown Contributor Role: Richard Bennett .
Not many modern country legends have traveled through their careers with the wherewithal, grace and vision of Emmylou Harris. More than twenty years after helping Gram Parsons reinvent country with so-called "Cosmic American music," Harris is still tinkering with the genre's songwriting conventions and the sounds she uses to illustrate the words she sings. Enter Daniel Lanois: erstwhile protege of Brian Eno, producer to U2, Bob Dylan and Robbie Robertson, and a visionary artist in his own right who mixes the Louisiana music of his Acadian ancestry with the ambient settings of his modernist mentor. On WRECKING BALL, he is the perfect foil for Harris' spiritual explorations, casting her in a light that has little in common with Nashville's neon glow.
Lanois' reverb-soaked recording technique and odd instrumentation decisions give WRECKING BALL its aura, wrapping the album in a mystical veil. They also free Harris to dive deeper into the lyrical ideas of the songs, and emerge with clear spiritual conveyances. Steve Earle's "Goodbye" is a rhythmically sprawling reopening of an old wound, as Earle himself sits in on the proceedings, gently fingerpicking the melody in front of Lanois' electric-guitar washes. "Deeper Well" is Harris and Lanois' idiosyncratic take on gospel bluegrass--U2's Larry Mullen, Jr. pounds a rolling north African beat over a gray din, while acoustic guitars, piano progressions and irreverent vocal snippets echo around Harris' search for "a holier grail."
WRECKING BALL's move away from traditional foundations is most apparent in a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "May This Be Love." Instead of taking a storyteller's approach, Harris and Lanois treat the song as a declaration--a duet between their voices and multiple guitar tracks, with Mullen adding a faint rhythm. The singers give themselves over to the upliftment and blind trust the lyrics describe, as the prickly distortions and loops that accompany them supply the reality check of their drab modern surroundings.
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