Pin It
Favorite

CD Review 

by Sheri Boggs


If Red Dirt Girl -- Emmylou Harris's somber and atmospheric album from three years ago -- felt a bit like a walk through the Valley of the Shadow, Stumble Into Grace is more of a sunlit car trip to the Promised Land. With a lusher, more polished sound and less of the discordant reverberations of Wrecking Ball, Spyboy and Red Dirt Girl, this is Harris at her most elegantly accessible.


While she can interpret old standards like "If I Could Only Win Your Love" and "Angel Band," she is just as unforgettable when delivering her own songs. Even while singing of heartbreak and unrequited passions, she maintains an oddly comforting distance -- perhaps as if knowing the grungy skirmishes and genuine heartache we experience here on Earth will someday be washed away and kissed better. Even "Lost Unto This World," with its hair-raising images of violence and loss, plays out like a bittersweet and hypnotic lullaby.


It would be easier for Harris to churn out something similar to her last few albums, but here she experiments with world music rhythms -- for instance, the ethereal South American churanga and drums on "Little Bird," and the mysteriously hushed drumbeats of "O Evangeline." And while Harris is joined by Gillian Welch, Jane Siberry and Linda Ronstadt on several tracks, it is Kate and Anna McGarrigle that add the most haunting resonance in their back-up vocals to "Plaisir d'Amour," "O Evangeline," "I Will Dream" and "Little Bird." The only real misstep on this rich, slowly unfolding album is "Can You Hear Me Now," which has lovely lyrics but is marred by its over-used, overly recognized title/tagline.


Stumble Into Grace is full of pleasures that reveal themselves over consecutive listenings, but one eerily timed track stands out immediately from the rest. "Strong Hand," dedicated to June Carter Cash, is a deeply affecting hymn of remembrance and a celebration of the enduring love between two country music legends. "He was a tall man, raised up from the fields of cotton," is the kind of lyric that sounds like the opening line to an American folk tale, and indeed, Johnny Cash was both an ordinary man and a cultural icon. Harris, as a close family friend, strikes the perfect note of familiarity and honor.





Publication date: 10/02/03
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Enough is Enough
  • Enough is Enough

    Too many students are being sexually assaulted on our college campuses
    • Sep 2, 2015
  • Everybody's Business
  • Everybody's Business

    Publisher's Note
    • Sep 2, 2015
  • Trick or Treaty?
  • Trick or Treaty?

    Even Ronald Reagan would sign a treaty with evil empires when it served the cause of peace on earth
    • Sep 2, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Paul Bunyan Days

Paul Bunyan Days @ St. Maries

Sept. 5-7

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Sheri Boggs

  • Beer and Branding in PDX

    • Sep 15, 2005
  • Rural Revolution

    All the farms I remember from growing up in North Idaho and Eastern Washington were not what you'd call stylish. In fact, what I do remember are blocky sofas covered in that ubiquitous mauve upholstery, copper Jell-O molds lining the kitche
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • Nightlife- Bands to Watch

    Gorilla and Rabbit Aside from the fact that you can't help but watch Gorilla and Rabbit, you really should keep an eye on them. As much of a part of the Spokane scene as the Makers, metal and mullets, these oversized stuffed toys have crank
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • 'Flip of a Coin'

    A Spokane Valley deputy trained to spot stoned and drunk drivers is wrong nearly as often as he is right, blood tests from drivers show
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


marijuana


Comment


Publisher's Note


BUSINESS


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation