From the tremulous opening notes of the first track, Songbird, I knew this was going to be another Emmylou classic. Spyboy definitely is that but also much more. Every single song on this magnificent album is a treasure, from Songbird to The Maker. The band is perfectly in synch with Harris' voice, and so is the audience. All together these elements create a magical ambience that sticks in the mind.
My favourites on this breathtaking work includes her compelling live version of Green Pastures (with lovely male backing vocal), the most moving Calling My Children Home, done a capella with just male backing vocal (a devotional song of great power), the achingly beautiful Prayer in Open D where she sings solo, Boulder To Birmingham and her almost jazzy version of Daniel Lanois' The Maker with its complex arrangement.
As someone who as a rule do not like live albums, I can assure the prospective listener that Spyboy is a heavenly blend of beautiful songs and atmospherics to which the audience definitely contributes. The applause adds to the mood while her short introductions are just right. This is the closest I'll come to seeing her in concert, and it is a proper consolation. The CD quality and sound clarity are faultless.
I rate this album right up there with Emmylou's very best like Wrecking Ball, Red Dirt Girl, Roses In The Snow and A Cowgirl's Prayer. There is plenty of variety, from bluegrass gospel to the awesome droning rock guitars of Deeper Well and the straight country Tulsa Queen to the jazzy excursion on the Lanois song. I cannot recommend this album highly enough; it has given me hours of listening pleasure and has an uplifting effect on the spirit.