Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell 'Old Yellow Moon' - Nonesuch

When the original Hot Band came together, country music was in a pretty sorry state and country rock had become a watered-down entity.  However,  Emmylou Harris always flew the flag for Gram Parsons' ideal of a cosmic American. Rodney Crowell, the  young Texan singer songwriter who had joined the Hot Band early in it's career  has always stayed in close contact with Emmylou ever since. This is their first joint album and it is a welcome return to the ethos that was at the heart of the Hot Band. Both are at ease and in fine voice and playing what is undeniably country music -  that is to everyone but the overseers of country music radio -  who probably wouldn't recognise real country anyway. 

The dozen songs are a wide ranging selection that come from writers such as Crowell himself, Kris Kristofferson, Roger Miller and Matraca Berg,  as well as three from original Hot band member Hank DeVito. Other Hot Band alumni on board as players are James Burton, Glen D. Hardin and John Ware who all make cameo appearances among a cast of 26 musicians. Featured are such fine players as Vince Gill, John Jorgenson, Steuart Smith and Micky Raphael. The production is handled by Brian Ahern,  which is both appropriate and timely. These are veterans whok now how to best serve a song at every level.

The songs include a fine version of the Roger Miller-written Ray Price classic Invitation To The Blues, Spanish Dancer by Patti Scialfa, Crowell's songs Bluebird Wine, Bull Rider and Here We Are, the Allen Reynolds classic Dreaming My Dreams and Berg's reflection on ageing Back When We Were Beautiful. There is no doubt that age plays its part here, but Emmylou brings experience that that shows. Their voices have aged, but have taken on a lovely patina that serves as a recognition that time moves on, even as the origin of these songs and this music has. Old Yellow Moon still shines down and illuminates the timelessness of a form of music that has strong, deep roots that will help it to survive the harsh pruning that it faces right now. This album is a fine example of what needs to be preserved, nourished and grown.