[ Asylum Records / CD ]
Release Date: Saturday 16 October 1999
Two of the greatest voices of the late twentieth century come together in this stunning session to record songs by Bruce Springsteen; Leonard Cohen; Sinead O'Connor; and others.
Perhaps inspired by the triumphs of 'Trio' & 'Trio II', which they recorded with Dolly Parton, Linda Rondstadt & Emmylou Harris went into a makeshift studio to record an album as a duo. The results are superb. Rondstadt leaves her slick Hollywood pop sound behind and delivers some of her most unadorned & heartfelt singing since the early '70s. Harris is Harris: her voice is as delicate as a butterfly and as strong as steel.
The songs on 'Western Wall' are varied, each vividly telling a story. "1917" is a chilling chronicle of an affair cast amid the brutality of World War I. "Sweet Spot" is an eerie declaration of devotion, with a spare, Laurie Anderson-like use of electronics, written by Harris & Luscious Jackson's Jill Cunniff. Rondstadt shines on a straightforward, proud version of Jackson Browne's "For a Dancer". Other song choices include Bruce Springsteen's "Across the Border" and Leonard Cohen's "Sisters of Mercy". Excellent.
"Two of the greatest voices of the late twentieth century come together in this stunning session to record songs by Bruce Springsteen; Leonard Cohen; Sinead O'Connor; and others known to be able to pen the odd tune or two. Add arrangements & production in which the beauty + power of these women's voices are allowed to shine, and the result is an album that demands repeat listening."
"...These two paragons of country-pop could be coasting, but fortunately for us, they're still listening. 'Wall' offers... moments of pure grace..."
"...this is no run-of-the-mill country affair ... the results are uniformly excellent. Indulge."
"...Harris & Ronstadt's voices of experience convey through steady grace what old bluesmen do through weather and whiskey ... they match sparse, intense sounds to carefully chosen storytelling songs and devout performace. Bread & fishes, basically."
Nominated for the 2000 Grammy Award for "Best Contemporary Folk Album", 'Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions' was recorded at the Arizona Inn, Tucson, Arizona.
Personnel includes: Emmylou Harris (vocals, acoustic & electric guitar); Linda Ronstadt (vocals); Ethan Johns (acoustic, electric, slide, Spanish & baritone guitar, dulcimer, mandocello, synthesizer, bass, drums, percussion, marksaphone, optigon); Bernie Leadon (acoustic, electric & 12-string guitars, gutarron, mandocello, mandolin, synthesizer, 6-string bass, background vocals); Greg Leisz (acoustic, electric & pedal steel guitars, mandocello, mandolin, bass, background vocals); Andy Fairweather Low (electric guitar, bass, background vocals); Paul Kennerley (electric guitar, background vocals); Neil Young (harmonica, background vocals); Kate McGarrigle, Anna McGarrigle (background vocals).
1. Loving the Highway Man
2. Raise the Dead
3. For a Dancer
4. Western Wall
6. He Was Mine
7. Sweet Spot
8. Sisters of Mercy
9. Falling Down
11. This is to Mother You
12. All I Left Behind
13. Across the Border