LIVE REVIEW: Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell @ SummerTyne Americana (17.7.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Emmylou Harris, arguably best known for her many collaborations with every major Americana act since the early 1970s – from Gram Parsons to Steve Earle; Ryan Adams to Conor Oberst; Johnny Cash to Nick Cave – is often reduced to supplying harmony for her predominantly male series of counterparts. Rodney Crowell, though – with whom Harris has been making music since her 1974 album, Pieces of the Sky – appears more than happy to let her take centre stage tonight.

The first half of their set reads like the tracklist from a Greatest Hits of Country compilation as they plough merrily through renditions of Townes Van Zandt’s Pancho and Lefty and If I Needed You, Gram Parson’s Luxury Liner, and Crowell’s very own Bluebird Wine – many of which feature on the duo’s Grammy-winning 2013 album, Old Yellow Moon. The band – as tight as Crowell’s jeans – happily shift gears between the Bakersfield Honky-Tonk of Roger Miller’s Invitation to the Blues and the melancholic, pedal-steel laced ballad, Spanish Dancer.

Harris’ shimmering, desolate, solo performance of Red Dirt Girl is surely the highlight of an evening which is often a little too reliant on cover versions of country classics at the expense of superior solo material.

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