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Hard Bargain
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Hard Bargain

22 April 2011 | Format: MP3

9.99 (VAT included if applicable)
Buy the CD album for 10.82 and get the MP3 version for FREE. Does not apply to gift orders.
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Digital Booklet: Hard Bargain
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 22 April 2011
  • Release Date: 22 April 2011
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 56:06
  • Genres:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 69,826 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
In recent years the trilogy of records produced by a completely rejuvenated Emmylou Harris, which starts with the wonders of "Wrecking Ball," climaxes with the brilliant "Red Dirt Girl", and gently lands with the lovely "Stumble into grace" amounted to a peak in Americana music. Harris could barely put a foot wrong and the awards flowed like wine. There have since been a couple of missteps on the way since this reviewer is not a huge fan of her collaboration with Mark Knoplfer yet particularly enjoyed the fine covers on "All I intended to be" (although not all the originals).

Many have questioned whether Emmylou Harris is an artist who sings other people's songs better than she writes her own? In a recent interview with NPR she admitted that songwriting doesn't come easy for her: "It's the fear of writing that's still there with me," Consequently with the majority of tracks on "Hard Bargain" self penned does Harris conquer her fear. The answer is yes in most cases but with a couple of songs that absolutely stand out. Her heartbreaking requiem for her dear departed friend the great folk singer Kate Anna McGarrigle is one example and possibly one of the finest tunes she has written. When "she sings that you are sailing now/ free from the pain" it would take a very cold heart not to be deeply moved by its sentiment. Another even closer friend Gram Parsons is again the key subject of the opener "The Road". She has been here before of course not least in "Boulder to Birmingham" her poignant ode capturing the depth of her shock and pain at losing Parsons. While "The Road" is perhaps not in that class, her unique breathy vocals combined with a rock steady beat is a joy and the song's bridge takes it to new levels.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The subject says it for me. It's all to do with personal taste and my ears haven't heard a better album this year - so far.

I have to disagree with Nick Barraclough about the songs here not being up to her usual standard. I think that most of them are better. If I play the whole album and then want to play a couple of tracks again, I'm now torn between all thirteen as to what to pick. I also think "The Road" is better than "Boulder To Birmingham", although the latter is a brilliant song.

Great tracks include the aforementioned "The Road", "My Name Is Emmett Till", "Goodnight Old World", "Lonely Girl", "The Ship on His Arm", "Nobody", "Cross Yourself" and "Hard Bargain" (my favourite, which shows she is still a wonderful interpreter of others' songs - and Ron Sexsmith is a brilliant songsmith - no pun intended); Gosh - that's nearly all of them.

It's just Emmylou, Jay Joyce and Giles Reaves making the music and both guys are brilliant. Emmylou's voice is as good as ever, with that breathy frailty present as usual. She sings all the vocals (no female backing singers required) and her voice is still magnificent whilst, on almost all tracks, she accompanies herself on guitar. Messrs Joyce and Reaves play everything else - Reaves is a very interesting multi-instrumentalist who has released a couple of albums which sound very new age to me, which I am interested in exloring.

So, all in all, Emmylou remains a fine interpreter of others' songs, but her own writing is becoming stellar. For me, she has not put a foot wrong since "Wrecking Ball" and, at 64, looks fabulous in the photos and sounds just as great. I'm still a recent convert to her music and can only tell you how I feel about her music since I fell in love with her.
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By therealus TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 6 Jun. 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Any record by Emmylou Harris is inevitably going to be compared with her extensive and impressive, almost unparalleled, back-catalogue, and Hard Bargain has a particularly hard job in having as its predecessor All I Intended To Be, upon which Harris's own talents were perfectly complemented by a set of talented and exciting backing musicians, including Harris's go-to guy Buddy Miller.

Perhaps because Miller was lately coopted by Robert Plant for his Band Of Joy, the right-hand man is missing off this collection, and maybe that's one reason why it doesn't quite reach the level of All I Intended To Be. It's a very good record, not a great record; carefully manufactured rather than lovingly crafted, with Harris turning in an efficient performance throughout without really breaking into a sweat, and Nashville producer Jay Joyce making sure she's more than adequately supported musically.

Opening track The Road is about being haunted by the past, so will have a resonance with her older followers. Er, like me. And possibly some of them will recognise the "3 chords and the truth" line, as I did, which may or may not originate, but certainly features on U2's version of All Along The Watchtower on Rattle & Hum. So that's the classical reference out of the way.

Moving swiftly on.

Harris does tender moments as well as anyone, and these are well exemplified here by Goodnight Sweet World, particularly effective in 3/4 time, and Lonely Girl. Wearing her heart on her sleeve, My Name Is Emmett Till is a tale of a black boy from Chicago bludgeoned, stabbed and shot to death by a white mob in Mississippi for having the effrontery to talk to a white woman.
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