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Emmylou Harris

Pieces of the Sky [Bonus Tracks] [Remastered]

Release Date: 02/24/2004
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Price: $7.99

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Emmylou Harris' Pieces of the Sky is one of the more welcome entries in her catalog. Before the auspicious and provocative Elite Hotel, issued later in 1975, Pieces of the Sky was the kind of record that became Harris' signature style for most of her time at Warner Brothers, and is one of the most auspicious debut recordings in the history of country music. Accompanied by the Hot Band featuring James Burton, Rodney Crowell, Brian Ahern, Rick Cunha, Glen D. Hardin, Linda Ronstadt, Amos Garrett, Mike Auldridge, and a slew of others, Harris offers a palette of songs that range from raditional country music, including her understated yet deeply moving read of Billy Sherrill's "Too Far Gone," Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors," Merle Haggard's "(Tonight) The Bottle Let Me Down," the Louvin Brothers' "If I Could Only Win Your Love," and the Bryants' "Sleepless Nights" (a staple of Harris when she played with the late Gram Parsons). From the then-current crop of country songwriters, she opened the album with Crowell's "Bluebird Wine" and Shel Silverstein's "Queen of the Silver Dollar." There's also another Lennon-McCartney selection included, with "For No One." But the most moving track on the set is "Boulder to Birmingham," a Harris original and her tribute to the memory of Parsons. In her voice one can hear the human heart break, shatter, and then gather itself in order to move on, forever looking back. When she sings, "Well you really got me this time/And the hardest part is knowing I'll survive/I've come to listen for the sound of the trucks as they move down out on 95/And pretending it's the ocean, comin' down to wash me clean/Baby, do you know what I mean?," the entire world opens in the grain of her voice and bathes the listener in grief, longing, and resolve. [On the 2004 remastered and expanded version of the album Rhino added a pair of Dallas Frazier tracks from the same sessions: there's the hard-singing honky tonk of "Hank and Lefty" and the standard "California Cottonfields." While nothing needed be added to this masterpiece, these cuts following Silverstein's (original) closer do not at all detract from it.] ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

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