Emmylou Harris needs no recommendation, but hell, we'll give her one anyway. In her four-decade career – next year will be the 40th anniversary of Gram Parsons's GP/Grievous Angel, the two-fer of "cosmic American music" that really set her on her way – Harris has earned her title as the Queen of Americana several times over. She's an icon, but one that remains restless and elusive, never staying in one place stylistically very long and speaking only through her songs. For a generation of women from Lucinda Williams and Patty Griffin on down, Harris is both mother figure and mentor. Her catalog is as matchless as it is nearly bottomless, including several songs that surpass their writers' versions: "Heartbreak Hill," "Two More Bottles of Wine," "Luxury Liner," "Pancho and Lefty," "Together Again," "Love Hurts," "Hello Stranger," "Born To Run," "Angel Band," "Hard Times," "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" and so forth. How many of those, and which ones, she and her band do Wednesday is anyone's guess, but they'll save room for her brand-new LP Hard Bargain, for which she wrote or co-wrote 11 of the 13 songs, and at its high points ("New Orleans," "The Road," "Darlin' Kate") is as lush, haunting and gorgeous as anything she's ever done.
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