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Hard Bargain


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Audio CD, April 26, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Emmylou Harris's Hard Bargain will be released April 26 on Nonesuch Records. The album follows Harris's acclaimed 2008 release, All I Intended to Be, which received widespread acclaim - Newsweek called it an album that "shows that Harris is still the stalwart songbird at the top of the roost." Hard Bargain, which comprises 11 new songs by Harris as well as two covers, was produced by Jay Joyce (Cage the Elephant, Patty Griffin).

Also available as a deluxe edition of the album, which includes a DVD featuring six performances interspersed with interviews.


1. The Road
2. Home Sweet Home
3. My Name Is Emmett Till
4. Goodnight Old World
5. New Orleans
6. Big Black Dog
7. Lonely Girl
8. Hard Bargain
9. Six White Cadillacs
10. The Ship on His Arm
11. Darlin' Kate

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 26, 2011)
  • Original Release Date: 2011
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B004NPZYEA
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,026 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

168 of 176 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Kornbluth TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 26, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Emmylou Harris has many admirers, but my wife and I may be the only ones who chose our wedding date based on her tour schedule. It wasn't that we were following her around like a couple of Deadheads --- we wanted Buddy Miller, then her lead guitarist, and his wife Julie to give a mini-concert for the guests at our wedding.

We spent just enough time with the Millers that weekend to grill them about Emmylou. They had no dish --- really, they had almost nothing to say about her. And they explained why: Emmylou Harris is an unspeakably nice person.

Her twitches are minor: baseball, her dogs, and if there's a third one, I've forgotten it. After three marriages, she lives in Nashville with her mother and brother. She has a shelter for rescued dogs in her yard.

Her career reads equally saintly. Over 40 years and 25 records and a dozen Grammys, she's followed her instincts, and, in the process, avoided sudden spikes and tumbles. She has graced hundreds of records as a celestial back-up singer and duet partner. The verdict is generous: There are, a critic has said, no bad Emmylou Harris records --- only good ones and better ones.

"Hard Bargain" is one of the better ones. Recorded in just a month with only three musicians, its first distinction is that Emmylou wrote 11 of the 13 songs. This is unusual --- it's only the third release on which she's been the dominant writer. The second distinction is that she's 64 now, and, like a lot of people who have hit their sixties, she can't quite grasp where the time went. And why people who have been important to her --- Gram Parsons and Kate McGarrigle, most prominently --- can be located only in memory.

This is a CD of deep feeling: sad memory, deep loss, specific regret.
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81 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Polar Bear on April 26, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Hard Bargain is Emmylou Harris' first release in almost 3 years and it was worth the wait! Her vocals are smooth as honey and hugely emotive and her voice still has that irresistible frail breathlessness. The songs are well written with meaningful lyrics and the music, as always, is beautiful and intuitive. It's hard to believe there are only 3 musicians, including Harris, making all the music. Long, weeping fiddle notes and chunky, contemplative piano chords are balanced only by the occasional tentative brightness of a banjo or mandolin. The percussion is distant, if there at all, but always clever. "Darlin' Kate" is about her close friend Kate McGarrigle who died last year of cancer. "The Road" looks back to her formative years spent with the late Gram Parsons at the start of her career. "Big Black Dog" is inspired by her animal shelter philanthropy and is the only almost-happy song on the album. "My name is Emmett Till is the true story of a 14 year old black boy killed in Mississippi for talking to a white woman. Overall the strength and sincerity of Harris' songs make this just another reason to love and respect her.
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52 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Red on Black on April 26, 2011
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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43 of 54 people found the following review helpful By JRL on May 10, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For starters, I have been listening to Emmylou Harris non-stop since she was playing in small local bars and venues in the Washington DC area in the early '70s. Some of her albums and many, many of her songs are are among the best I've ever heard. The downfall of this album can be attributed to 3 factors: A horrible bass heavy mix (the producer should be shot for this mess) that completely overpowers the vocals. The least musical band I've heard on any Emmylou album...robotic drumming like a bad karaoke machine, lifeless bass lines. Generally weak songwriting. I had been looking forward to this with great anticipation. This CD is going to be collecting dust in my listening room for a long while.
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