Tag Archives: Emmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris and John Prine at Wolf Trap, reviewed

Wow. It appears that the last time Emmylou Harris played at Wolf Trap, in 2008, I tried to corner the market, penning a a review of her then-most-recent album for the Washington Post as well as a Post review of the concert and a profile for The Examiner that I can’t find a link to now. I used to have it on this site as a PDF, but then Apple discontinued its .Mac service. It’s the circle of life, I suppose. Continue reading

More on Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball: Mistakes Were Made, by Me

Bruce Springsteen announced U.S. tour dates this morning. He’ll be here in DC on April Fool’s Day. So I’ll just get this over with: Bruuuuuuuce!

Thank you. And now, let us proceed.

When The Boss announced the title and release date of his forthcoming album Wrecking Ball last week, I just couldn’t see past its abysmal cover, an area in which he has been a career offender. I noted that Wrecking Ball is also the title of a very fine Emmylou Harris album from 1995. Dana Stevens, Slate’s superb film critic, noticed that too.

(When I was on the Filmspotting podcast the week after Stevens, I tried to say how much I admire her writing and how honored I was to follow her on the show, but it came out wrong. I apologize for that, Ma’am.)

Anyway, we exchanged a few Tweets about that title. “Title re-use doesn’t infringe copyright, but it’s crass,” Stevens wrote. I pointed out that Emmylou got the title from Neil Young, whose song “Wrecking Ball” (from his 1989 album Freedom) Emmylou covered on her album Wrecking Ball. Got all that?

“If Bruce covers the Neil Young song on this record, then the nab is vindicated,” Stevens concluded. Continue reading

Like Louis Armstrong Said, All Music Is Folk Music

Gillian Welch posted her Strathmore setlist on her Twitter feed this morning.

Ain’t never heard a horse sing no song.

I reviewed Gillian Welch and David Rawlings‘s concert at the Music Hall at Strathmore last night for the Washington Post. It was great. It was better than that. There wasn’t a bum note all night. Continue reading

Jenny Goes to Synagogue

Like Sarah Palin, Rilo Kiley-leader-cum-alt-country-diva Jenny Lewis had some onstage image-mending to do Thursday night: Her new solo album, Acid Tongue, isn’t quite the musical equivalent of a 3 a.m. phone call, but after Lewis’s prior under-her-own-name effort, 2006’s Rabbit Fur Coat, it’s a letdown, mostly discarding her unique millennial introspection in favor of been-there 70s country-rock.

But when Lewis entered the Sixth and I Synagogue from the back, floating stageward in a dazzling floor-length green dress while cooing the a capella “Run Devil Run” with which she routinely opens concerts, she effortlessly commanded this most beautiful and holy of rooms. Even the fact that she kicked off the set proper with “Jack Killed Mom” — a bland, awkward stew of murder ballad and gospel rave-up — couldn’t really derail the momentum of her entrance.

Lewis used her siren-strong alto to better effect on “The Charging Sky” and “Rise Up with Fists!!!,” establishing a pattern for the 70-minute concert: The songs on which Lewis stood and sang (with and without guitar) were always better than the ones on which she sat and played piano. Her paramour, Jonathan Rice — he’s a guitarist in her shaggy-in-sound-and-appearance band when he isn’t making his own records — showed palpable chemistry with the star, dueting with her on the ecstatic “Carpetbaggers.” But all was prologue to when the band huddled around one microphone to harmonize on the new record’s aching, gorgeous title track. (“I wrote this song a while ago, but it kind of hung around,” she said, which was as verbose as she got all night.)

Later, Lewis and Rice convincingly cast themselves as the new Emmylou Harris and Graham Parsons, with a haunting cover of “Love Hurts.” The show’s unchallenged pinnacle, it followed a holy-rolling “The Next Messiah.” On disc, the number is overlong and overwrought, but in this setting, it felt visceral — uplifting, even. Maybe you just have to hear it the Messiah’s house.

A slightly shorter version of this review appears in today’s Paper of Record.

Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Still.

Emmylou Harris. National treasure, no? Yes. Reviewed at Wolf Trap for the Paper of Record.


Photo by Rocky Schenck.

My Weekend section debut is a review of Emmylou Harris’s fine new album, All I Intended to Be. I’m also covering her Wolf Trap show on Sunday; lucky me. And I actually interviewed her last week for a short profile, also out today.

Nice lady, she. Can sing a little, too.