The Traveling Kind by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell – A Review

Read our review of The Traveling Kind by Emmylou and Rodney

emmylou and rodney the traveling kindIt’s turning out to be a somewhat nomadic year.

We’ve had recent new releases from Rhett Miller’s (Old 97’s) The Traveler (ATO Records) and Chris Stapleton’s (ex SteelDrivers) debut Traveler (Mercury).

Now we have The Traveling Kind – Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell’s new album on Nonesuch Records (just ahead of the pair’s first ever Australian tour together).

The Traveling Kind follows the longtime friends’ first duet album, 2013’s Old Yellow Moon, which won a Grammy for Best Americana Album, as well as two awards at the 2013 Americana Music Association Honors & Awards Show, for Album of the Year and Duo/Group of the Year.

Old Yellow Moon was a beautifully weighted collection of largely alt. country tracks and the follow up has come pretty quickly, so comparisons between the two releases are inevitable.  The Traveling Kind was produced by Grammy Award winner Joe Henry (Billy Bragg, Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann) and comprises eleven duet tracks, including six new songs written by Harris and Crowell with co-writing by Mary Carr, Cory Chisel, Will Jennings, and Larry Klein.  Also featured are new renditions of previous Crowell cuts including “No Memories Hanging Around” as well as new interpretations of Lucinda Williams’ “I Just Wanted to See You So Bad” and Amy Allison’s “Her Hair Was Red.”  The full track listing is below.

The Traveling Kind was recorded in a six-day span with Steuart Smith (guitar), Jedd Hughes (mandolin and guitar), Byron House (bass), Jerry Roe (drums) and Bill Payne (keyboard).  Extra support is provided by Chris Tuttle (piano and accordion), Steve Fishell (steel guitar), Larry Franklin (violin) and Chris Scruggs (steel guitar).  As well as producer Henry, Justin Neibank did the recording at The Sound Emporium and The House Of Blues studios in Nashville TN.

The mood has shifted from Old Yellow Moon.  The tracks on The Traveling Kind have a piquant and adventurous variety, but I must confide that the appeal for me is intellectual, rather than emotional.  After listening to the album many, many times, I come away a little disappointed.

The opener “The Traveling Kind” has a touch of Paul Simon’s “The Boxer” with a delightful rolling guitar pattern and pitter-patter percussive backdrop.  “Bring It On Home To Memphis”  is a belter, with a Roy Orbison-infused shuffle, a wall of harmonies and astute, evocative Mississippi Delta references.  There’s a beautiful, delicate groove to “The Weight Of The World” with Payne’s Wurlitzer and Hughes’ guitar powerful company.  “If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home” is one of those country songs with slight, humorous logic and is executed proficiently.  “La Danse De La Joie” is a good choice to close off proceedings, with its charming family Cajun Louisianne fun.

On the other hand, there’s a significant number of slow, wistful offerings that probably crowd the whole.  All well crafted but without rising to any great heights – “No Memories Hanging Around”, “You Can’t Say We Didn’t Try”, “Higher Mountains”, “Just Pleasing You” and “Her Hair Was Red”.  The version of Williams’ “I Just Wanted To See You So Bad” is well presented but to me not adding remarkably to the original.

The first duet album from this wonderful pair took decades, while the second hardly any time at all.  As I opined earlier, comparing the two is unavoidable given their proximity.  In reviewing The Traveling Kind, I found it necessary to go back to Old Yellow Moon to provide a point of reference.  Both albums are superbly put together and executed, with keen fans of the couple no doubt savouring both.  If you are not in this category, however, maybe make do with one album or hunt out their many excellent solo outings.

Having said all that, seeing them live with a crack band is an exciting prospect and I will be doing just that at the end of this month (June 2015 in Melbourne Australia), September 2015 (St Augustine Florida) and hopefully around the Americana Festival in Nashville TN, also this September.

The traveling kind indeed.

The Traveling Kind Tracklist

1. The Traveling Kind (Rodney Crowell/Emmylou Harris/Cory Chisel)
2. No Memories Hanging Around (Rodney Crowell)
3. Bring It on Home to Memphis (Rodney Crowell/Larry Klein)
4. You Can’t Say We Didn’t Try (Rodney Crowell/Emmylou Harris/Cory Chisel)
5. The Weight of the World (Rodney Crowell/Emmylou Harris)
6. Higher Mountains (Rodney Crowell/Emmylou Harris/Will Jennings)
7. I Just Wanted to See You So Bad (Lucinda Williams)
8. Just Pleasing You (Rodney Crowell/Mary Carr)
9. If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now (Rodney Crowell/Emmylou Harris)
10. Her Hair Was Red (Amy Allison)
11. La Danse de la Joie (Rodney Crowell/Emmylou Harris/Will Jennings)

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell Australian Tour 2015

 With special guest Harmony James

Sunday 21st June, Perth, Concert Hall
www.ticketek.com.au  132 849
Tuesday 23rd June, Canberra, AIS Event Centre
www.ticketek.com.au  132 849
Thursday 25th June, Melbourne, Palais Theatre
www.ticketmaster.com.au  136 100
Saturday 27th June, Sydney, The Star Event Centre
www.ticketek.com.au  132 849
Sunday 28th June, Wollongong, WIN Entertainment Centre
www.ticketmaster.com.au 136 100
Wednesday 1st July, Gold Coast, Jupiters Theatre
www.ticketmaster.com.au  136 100

Thanks to Footstomp Music

 

Read our review of The Traveling Kind by Emmylou and Rodney

Read our review of The Traveling Kind by Emmylou and Rodney

Read our review of The Traveling Kind by Emmylou and Rodney

Read our review of The Traveling Kind by Emmylou and Rodney

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Author: Rob Dickens

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