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2023 Albums Thing 158 - Emmylou Harris “Stumble Into Grace”

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My most recent purchase, just a couple of weeks ago. Another re-issue on coloured vinyl (cream this time, a bit boring but more interesting than black). “Stumble Into Grace” was originally released in 2003 and while digging out info about the others I owned I noticed a lot of good things said about it, so here we go. 

I’ve not had long to live with this one, so this may not be as detailed as other pieces. We’re still in that musical world created with Daniel Lanois (who appears as a musician this time) on “Wrecking Ball” so if you know that and “Red Dirt Girl” you can place the overall sound here, although there is a move toward a more conventional sound, overall it’s not as “left field” as the previous 2 records.

“Here I Am” starts us off with a gentle groove. We’re still in Lanois soundland but a few more traditonal sounds are creeping in. “I Will Dream” is more akin to what we’ve come to expect since “Wrecking Ball”. “Time In Babylon” is a slinky, Bluesy thing but the first song that really stands out is “Can You Hear Me Now’ at the end of side 1. It was written with Producer Malcolm Burn and has a vague familiarity about it, like something you’ve heard before but can’t quite place.

On Side 2 we start out with “Strong Hand (For June)” a song written for and about June Carter Cash who passed away while this album was being recorded. “O Evangeline” harks back to a previous album title and has that “Southern Gothic” feel about it. It’s a beautiful stripped back song featuring just Emmylou, Malcolm Burn and the McGarrigle sisters. That segues into a reading of the 18th century French song “Plaisir d'Amour” with just Emmylou and the McGarrigle’s sounding almost like they’re harmonising for fun at an open mic night !

I wouldn’t call “Stumble Into Grace” a must hear classic but it has it’s moments, it’s growing on me the more I live with it. Emmylou sings beautifully throughout and it’s all about her voice for me. After this it was another 5 years before her next solo album. Emmylou filled that time with collaborations with others, most notably Mark Knopfler (and I ain’t going anywhere near that !). 

Thanx for sticking with me as I guided you through what has become 11 albums by Emmylou Harris, I know not everyone finds it within them to take Country music seriously, but if I’ve helped change someone’s perception of Country or made one of you think “hmmm, I’ll give that a try” then I’d be very happy. I think I have all I need by Emmylou now, we’ll meet her again when we get to my Gram Parsons records but for now it’s time to move on.

O Evangeline - https://youtu.be/ISQqrrnvv2o

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