Hard Bargain (Deluxe Version)
At 64, Emmylou Harris is still in fine voice and Hard Bargain features 11 songs written or co-written by Harris that are among her finest. Two covers — Ron Sexsmith’s “Hard Bargain” and producer Jay Joyce’s “Cross Yourself” — fit the emotive feel of the album. But the true brilliance here is that it was recorded as a trio: Emmylou, producer Joyce and drummer, multi-instrumentalist Giles Reaves. Yet the album does not sound like a rough and raw trio, but rather a fully accomplished band many members deep, bringing out focused performances with an extra kick. Her tribute to Gram Parsons, “The Road,” clicks with the energy of a live band. “Home Sweet Home” pushes her harmonies frontward with sweet reverb as the song speaks of homelessness. “My Name Is Emmett Till” recalls the murder that sparked the Civil Rights movement. It’s so spiritually rich one can hear the effect of “They say the horror of that night is haunting heaven still.” Hard Bargain is one of Emmylou’s best. If she’s left purebred country music, she’s created her own spiritually true music to take its place. The Deluxe Edition features “To Ohio,” a track recorded with the Low Anthem.