"Bluebird," Emmylou Harris. Reprise Records.
Emmylou Harris said she likes sad songs - and it shows.Now and then she does an up-tempo number or a country rocker, but it's when she sings the sad songs that her heart and soul become parts of the mountain-spring purity of her haunting voice.
She shines on this new album as she borrows Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone." And she leads listeners down the old classic "Lonely Street" to "Heartbreak Hill." And "A River for Him" is as sad as her classic "Beneath Still Waters."
The influence of Richard Bennett, who co-produced with Harris, makes the album noticeably different from her past country discs. Bennett, Neil Diamond's guitarist, is remembered in country music for his six-string bass guitar work that helped make Steve Earle's "Guitar Town" a giant hit.
He brings a harder-edged tone to Harris' album, but still keeps it country.
During a two-decade love affair with uncluttered country music, Harris' love life has sometimes taken the theme of her songs - love gone wrong. But her recording life is a story of happy endings and hit records. And she's progressed from a long-haired, jean-clad hillbilly hippie to a sophisticated woman of 41.