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|1. Here I Am|
|2. I Will Dream|
|3. Little Bird|
|4. Time in Babylon|
|5. Can You Hear Me Now|
|6. Strong Hand (for June)|
|7. Jupiter Rising|
|8. O Evangeline|
|9. Plaisir d'Amour|
|10. Lost Unto this World|
|11. Cup of Kindness|
The production of 'Stumble into Grace' is much clearer than that of her last few albums, by which I mean that you don't get the very dense wall of sound that is particularly noticable on songs like 'May this be Love' and 'Bang the Drum Slowly,' but the instumentation remains perfect, shifting and bending genres with the light touch that we've come to expect.
'Cup of Kindness,' 'O Evangeline,' 'Plaisir d'Amour' and 'Strong Hand' represent the most traditional tracks, each imbued by Harris' wonderful warm voice and the fantastic musicians that she's attracted to the project with a timeless quality. Then there are very upbeat songs like 'Here I Am,' and 'Jupiter Rising,' which seem to mark out a new stage of confidence in her songwriting. Her friendship with Steve Earle is seen in the demanding protest of 'Time in Babylon.'
She breaks new territory of a different sort in one of my favourite songs: 'Little Bird,' set to a Peruvian folk song, a mesmerising combination of native melody and instrument and Harris' delicate voice hopping above it like a sparrow hopping from note to note. Although in Harris' case perhaps nightingale would be a better allusion!
'I Will Dream,' and 'Can You Hear Me Now,' are perhaps as close as Harris comes to having a signature songwriting style - the kind of wistful, understated personal ballad seen in both 'Red Dirt Girl' and 'Wrecking Ball.' My personal favourite track however is the bleak and beautiful 'Lost Unto the World,' another product of Harris' amazing partnership with Daniel Lanois.Read more ›
Both I Will Dream and Little Bird were co-written by Kate and Anna McGariggle; the first is graced with the backing vocals of Jane Siberry, one of my favourite female vocalists, and the second has the legendary folk sisters lending their voices. A highlight of the album is I Will Dream with its beautiful imagery and poetic lines referring to swallows coming back from Capistrano.
The song Can You Hear Me Now? is a gripping ballad with the most moving lyrics borne aloft by full but delicately arranged instrumentation and embellished by the voices of inter alia Daniel Lanois and Siberry. Linda Ronstadt shares backing vocals with Emmylou on the simple but inspiring Strong Hand.
There's a joyous sensuality in the uptempo Jupiter Rising with its catchy tune and buoyant rhythm, whilst the lilting and melodious Evangeline sees Harris in full inspirational mood again. She also does a fine interpretation of the old song Plaisir d'Amour.
The final gem is the deeply spiritual Cup Of Kindness, a typical Harris son of transcendence. The contribution of Daniel Lanois can be heard in the songs Jupiter Rising, Can You Hear Me Now? and Lost Unto This World but it is the heavenly voices of the Canadian nightingales Jane Siberry and the McGarrigle sisters that make the music special for me.
Of the aforementioned albums, Red Dirt Girl remains my number one, with this one and Wrecking Ball tied in second place. Stumble Into Grace is more delicate in style and personal in imagery, but it radiates a magic of its own.
Anyway, it arrived a few days ago and it's been playing ever since; I won't listen to anything else. Some of the songs on here are so moving (Strong Hand being the worst offender - it did make me cry; though I Will Dream comes a close second) and they are all so pure and lovely to listen to, I'm really really glad I bought it. I urge you to do the same!