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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 16 January 2003
Harris has always had a brilliant voice and surrounded herself with the songs and instrumentalists to make it sound even better. Her choice of songs is very canny and displays impeccable taste - never falling into the trap of cliche and sentimentality. Her previous albums - with the exception of 'The Ballad of Sally Rose' 'Wrecking Ball' is really the cut off point here - have tended to sound clinical however. The listener feels that she's holding back somehow, refusing to get emotionally involved with the music. 'Red Dirt Girl,' a self-penned album that seems to be the destination of where she was starting to go on 'Wrecking Ball,' finally acomplishes that.
It's interesting that both 'Wrecking Ball,' and 'Red Dirt Girl' won Grammys but for best contemporary folk album rather than best country. There's certainly a country edge visible in 'Red Dirt Girl,' mostly in the lyrical, ballad-like quality of some of the songs and the cultural references used, for example in 'The Boy From Tupelo' and 'Red Dirt Girl.' I wouldn't call this a country or a folk album however. It transcends boundaries. The production (although I don't know much about such matters) is a warm cocophony of instrumentation and vocal backing which, in combination with Harris' voice, seems to wrap the listener in an embryonic cloud of warmth, nostalgia and sorrow.
The noicable change in Harris' voice in 'Wrecking Ball,' and 'Spyboy' is that it had lost it's clear cut perfection and become raw with emotion. The voice sounds as if it's loved, lost and keeps going and the songs say the same. Personal thoughts such as the deep spiritual yearning of 'The Pearl,' the sorrow and guilt at the death of her father in 'Band the Drum Slowly,' and the regret at her actions in a mother in 'My Baby Needs a Shepherd,' are offset by more general considerations such as the end of an era in 'The Boy from Tupelo,' and the experimental greatness of 'Michaelangelo.' Ironically enough the most cheerful note comes from the only cover on the album - 'One Big Love,' by Patty Griffin. I have to admit I found myself preferring the reserved wistfulness and joy of Harris to Griffin's original!
Without a doubt this is the best album I own. I listened to it solidly for about three months after I bought it - I just couldn't get it out of my head! It's wistful, it's sorrowful, it's lyrical, it's beautiful and it's real. The songs seem like something that you've always heard, they become part of your world. If you've ever listened to Harris and wondered what would happen if she just let rip this is the album for you.
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on 22 June 2017
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on 25 May 2017
all excellent
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on 23 August 2015
a classic album for a giveaway price
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on 16 February 2002
My interest in Emmylou was sparked by recent duets with Alt.country stars like Ryan Adams and Lucinda Williams and i was lucky enough to find Red Dirt Girl on my dad's CD shelf. I can't really express quite how brilliant this album really is. If my heading for this review sounds over the top, i will say it again, listening to this album makes me think that if the sound of Angels could burst through the clouds, this i s what they might sound like. Her voice sounds almost disembodied in parts, and the production certainly plays a huge part in the album's effect. Now i may be the emotional type anyway but there are moments on this album that after endless listens, still have me on the brink of tears. There are so many highlights i almost don't want to single out particular sonds but if i had to i'd go with My Antonia, Red Dirt Girl and Boy from Tupelo. One of the best albums i have heard in heaven knows how long.
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on 11 April 2002
I cannot say I am an expert in alt-country,in fact I bought this album on the recommendation of Uncut magazine.Thankfully I found a very moving, raw album unlike anything else in my collection.The production of the album is very 'raw' but it has the effect of making Emmylou's extraordinary voice even more haunting.Buy an album unlike the usual run of the mill stuff and prepare to be moved!!
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I consider Red Dirt Girl a touch above her masterpiece Wrecking Ball. I always skip some tracks on that one, but this immaculate album is so consistently beautiful that one can safely ignore the one less than classic song (J'ai fait tout). Her music is infused with a deep spirituality finding expression in trenchant poetic lyrics, inspiring melodies and expert instrumentation.
The combination of vivid imagery and sweeping melody on Michelangelo is absolutely breathtaking, and is followed by the powerful moody rock of I Don't Wanna Talk About It Now. The next one, Tragedy, is a traditional country weepie but of course of the highest quality in both lyrics and execution, while the title track is country storytelling at its best.
The mournful My Baby Needs A Shepherd is followed by the equally sorrowful elegy to her father, Bang The Drum Slowly. The mood lifts with One Big Love that echoes the sensual ballads like Blackhawk and Waltz Across Texas on her Wrecking Ball album. Hour of Gold contains some of her most moving romantic lyrics.
My Antonia, the beautiful duet with Dave Matthews, reminds me a bit of another song that Emmylou covered long ago, Spanish Is The Loving Tongue (Mi Amor, Mi Corazon), whilst the sad but transcendent The Pearl reminds me of The Garden Hides The Jewel by Angels Of Light.
Red Dirt Girl is an absolutely outstanding achievement and, together with Nick Lowe's The Impossible Bird and her own Wrecking Ball, make up my three best-loved albums of the last ten years in the country tradition.
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on 20 January 2003
I've tracked Emmylou's progress and growth since she first appeared on the Old Grey Whistle Test and in that time listened to her explore some pretty diverse stuff. It's my feeling that she's made a few mistakes along the way - one of them being Wrecking Crew. It seems this could be a minority view but I just couldn't get my head round it - too brash, too hard, too un-Emmylou. But Red Dirt Girl lifts Emmy to somewhere very different. The crack in her voice has developed into something very much more expressive - deep, husky and sexy! If this is Emmylou penning her own songs and singing them from the heart then I can't wait for Red Dirt Girl 2!
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VINE VOICEon 3 December 2003
....to praise this album.
Read this in a kind of Bruce Springsteen intro type voice...
We were on the way to a pantomime, I was the driver, so had access to the stereo controls on the steering column. Made my selection somewhat deftly, and Emmylou sang in the background. Michael Angelo and the volume went up a little.
My Father in Law asked who the artist was - I replied and added a little more volume. He asked "how would you classify this album" y'know, like rock, pop, etc.. I said I wouldn't classify it - it's too good to put in a box.
If you like singer songwriters, songs where you can not only hear the words but they mean something - this album is for you. We saw Emmylou recently, and she explained what the songs meant to her - and that's added another dimension. But don't be put off by Emmylou tags like "queen of alternative country". A truly great album.
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on 3 January 2001
This is the most consistent collection of excellent melodies I've heard since Eileen Rose's Shine Like It Does (though I still prefer Ms Rose's voice - and her songs, for that matter). Emmylou should always have written more songs herself, rather than concentrating on interpreting the work of others, and this is proof positive. My only problem is that, being as I never liked Gram Parsons very much, I find Emmylou's continuing lyrical dedication to the man very hard to relate to. Oh, well. Nice to have her back, anyway.
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