Two be­come one in love and loss

Al­bum of the Week

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - JOE BREEN

EM­MY­LOU HAR­RIS AND ROD­NEY CROW­ELL

The Trav­el­ling Kind

None­such The art of the duet is much un­der­sung, if you’ll par­don the phrase, though not in Amer­i­cana mu­sic. Em­my­lou Har­ris should know. Her ca­reer kicked off more than 40 years ago singing duets with the great Gram Par­sons, while Rod­ney Crow­ell came to promi­nence not much later singing har­mony in her Hot Band. “I love the sound of two voices to­gether,” Har­ris told Rolling

Stone, “whether it’s two women or two men or a man and a woman. It just cre­ates a third voice.”

The idea of a third voice re­quires that the two singers share the sonic; that they “hear” the song the same way; that they like and trust each other. Har­ris and Crow­ell tick all those boxes.

“We vowed the first night we met in 1974 to make a record,” said Crow­ell. It took them a long time – Old Yel­low Moon came out in 2013 and they re­ceived a Grammy and a heap of praise for their trou­ble.Two years later The Trav­el­ling Kind seeks to re­peat the trick and, if any­thing, is more im­pres­sive.

This is a more re­laxed, more con­fi­dent al­bum, per­haps be­cause nine of the 11 tracks are their own. There is a sure­ness of touch, a clar­ity of di­rec­tion and an ar­ray of mem­o­rable per­for­mances. It is rooted in the al­most mythic sound of honky-tonks and heartaches, all steel gui­tar and heav­enly har­mony, where love and loss walk hand in hand. Th­ese are tropes of course but hard-luck bal­lads as strong as Mem­o­ries Hang­ing Around and You Can’t Say We Didn’t Try evoke a sim­ple beauty. In con­trast, Bring It On Home To Mem­phis, the bluesy fizz of The Weight of the World and the wry If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now dis­play more mus­cle, though as be­fits Joe Henry’s de­tailed but un­der­stated pro­duc­tion, taste­fully so.

And in the ti­tle track, th­ese two per­form­ers have writ­ten a clas­sic re­flex­ive song for their jour­ney to­gether. They are, most cer­tainly, The Trav­el­ling Kind.

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