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All the Roadrunning

4.7 out of 5 stars 384 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 25, 2006
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Product Description

For several years, the iconic Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris have been quietly recording a remarkable collection of duets whenever the Grammy winning artists could steal away from their own illustrious careers. The extraordinary result is All the Roadrunning. The songs from their Nashville sessions, all originals, while undeniably modern, have the appeal of classics, whether country, Celtic flavored or gently soulful. All the Roadrunning is Knopfler & Harris making music and, as they lyric for "This is Us" puts it, making history.

Over the last seven years, Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris quietly recorded an album by stealing "a few precious hours of studio time here and there," as the ex-Dire Straits singer/guitarist puts it. Good thing they kept it largely under wraps--expectations would have pushed through the clouds, especially as Knopfler conjured 10 of the 12 cuts, and Harris, who writes potently, but little, contributed two ("Love and Happiness," "Belle Starr"). Yet now that it's here, All the Roadrunning--while beautiful--seems somehow underwhelming, and without a true centerpiece. Anyone familiar with the artists' famous catalogues would expect the repertoire to be poetic and brooding, and that Harris's ethereal soprano would add light to Knopfler's dark Prozac rumblings. But the surprise is that the album is too tame, never breaks out of its midtempo groove, and never takes any big chances.

That said, there is much to like: The marital scrapbook romp of "This Is Us," the bluesy bickering of "Right Now," the wrenching poignancy of the 9/11-inspired ballad "If This Is Goodbye." Knopfler, ever the hypnotic guitarist, turns in some thrillingly droll and laconic vocals, and Harris brings the spirited coltishness of her early work to "Belle Starr." In the end, though, this is not so much a duet album as two famously melancholy musicians singing together--at times, strikingly so. --Alanna Nash

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 25, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • ASIN: B000F0UV0E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (384 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,893 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Mark Knopfler gets a bit more rootsy with each new CD. In this one he has added a fiddle and mandolin and some of the songs have an "old-timey" Appalachian flavor to them. Emmylou Harris's folksy soprano is perfect for the music. One wishes Knopfler would have taken the next step, added a banjo, and tried a couple of bluegrass numbers. Oh, well. Next album.

The rootsy atmosphere doesn't extend to Knopfler's electric guitar -- the highlight of the CD -- as his coloratura picking weaves in and out of the lyrics, unmistakenly Knopler with not a single note too many nor too few. "This is Us" is the single from the CD and it's probably the most rocking number. There are others I liked more: "I Dug up a Diamond" is beautiful with a great mandolin in addition to Knopfler's guitar. "Donkey Town" is one of the semi-strange Knopfler songs that sometimes work. Of special note is "If This is Goodbye," about the fall of Flight 93 on 9/11. It's lovely, sad and touching -- a virtual showcase for Emmylou's voice and Knopfler's guitar. There's not a clunker on the whole CD.

Harris is the perfect duet partner for about any male singer whose vocal range is from A to B. That's Knopfler -- whose gruff mumble still manages to be appealing. This is a CD full of classy, quality listening music that falls somewhere between the genres of Rock, Folk, and Country.

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It should be no surprise Emmylou Harris' angelic voice blends perfectly with the gruff rumble of Mark Knopfler's. If you've heard her great duo with similarly bassoed country artist Don Williams on Townes Van Zandt's elegant "If I Needed You," you could anticipate the perfect fit. And anyway, Emmylou's voice blends with everyone's. She is not only one of the most sought after duet partners in country music, but an iconic soloist who is on the short list of all time country greats.

In a time when Nashville demands you are only as good as your last video, she is no Emmylou come lately. When one recent female country artist cut her first album and was asked of her goals for the disk, she replied: "I just wanted to do something that wouldn't embarrass me in front of Emmylou Harris." Or as Knopfler himself put it during their release day appearance on Imus in the Morning, "When Emmylou sings a song, it stays sung."

Knopfler is a talented songwriter and an elegant guitar artist with a distinctive musical tone and style that, if described in literary terms, might be dubbed "Hemingwayesque." Just as Papa never used ten words when one perfectly chosen one would do, so too with Knopfler's guitar work. Knopfler's taste and economy is recognizable whether gunning out "Sultans of Swing" with Dire Straits or "Wild Theme" from his sound track of "Local Hero."

In other words these individually brilliant artists flat out define good taste and talent performing together.

Fittingly, "All the Roadrunning" does not up and shout at you, but comes at you with a quiet confidence. It is flash-free, as understated and tasteful as its participants. No one is showing off here, these are artists plying their craft. And just how good that craft is may sneak up on you.
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Format: Audio CD
Here we go again. Some nondescript no talent music maven wanting to go against the grain and show how cool he/she is by writing something that will stem the tide of popular opinion. Oooh, how cool!

Just give the CD a listen. It's a perfect melding of two musicians who go back a long way and have collaborated on numerous projects. Anyone who has seen them perform together on the Ovation Channel's great folk recordings with the likes of the McGariggle Sisters, Loudon and Rufus Wainwright, etc. would know that these two go back at least a decade. They have had ample time to hone their craft. Name a better guitarist? Name a better folk singer? Sometimes truth must rise to the surface.

Some people must have proverbial tin ears. Even literal ones. I really must chuckle again, after rereading "the official" Amazon reviewer's take. I hate to be caustic, but in this instance, wrong reviewer for wrong CD. And that statement alone will probably get this review booted. But really, if the emperor is naked, might as well at least whistle. He might at least have time to run for his skivvies.

These are great arrangements, great songs, great short... a wonderful recording from two of the best talents in the music "industry" today. In fact, if you sit back and listen to them as they mesh their musical geniuses, you might forget about such terms and just enjoy pure, unadulterated talent at play. Highly, highly, recommended.

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Across a dozen duets, pieced together over seven years Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler sing these tunes with deep emotional overtones. Much of this CD relates to the life of an itinerant musician, "trying to juggle family and relationships and just the wear and tear of being in the world".

Emmylou says of making this CD," Mark is very much in control and knows what he wants, but on the other hand, he understand the mystical process that happens when you make a record and that record becomes what it is. It has everything to do with the people involved, but there's this other ingredient, of something set in motion. When I heard these songs together, it was so listenable, and I mean that in the most positive way, It a very rich album, musically and lyrically, yet it doesn't requires a lot of work." All of these songs were written by Emmylou and Mark.

"Beachcombing" which starts off the album is evocative of Hurricane Kristina although it was written well before. It is a song about loss, personal and emotional, says Mark, "wreckage washing up all along the coast."

"This is Us", is selected to become the single of this album. It is infectious and many will relate to this.

A lighter touch comes to "Red Staggewring, which is a Cajun-like tune where lovers compare themselves to motorcycles, cars and vintage guitars.

On "Belle Star", Emmylou compares herself to an old West infamous female outlaw, "Belle Star" and Mark as Jesse James. This banter is reminiscent of Johnny and June Cash in their early albums.

"Donkey Song' as a song written by Mark and meant for an earlier CD. They both enjoyed the freedom and silliness.

"Love and Happiness:" is the only "proper" song that Emmylou says she has written.
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Yeah I'm pretty excited about this. I got to see Mark and Emmy Lou on tour last summer. Separately of course but within about 2 weeks of each other. Emmy Lou has been with some great guitarists over the years and Mr K is another for sure.
Apr 22, 2006 by Just John |  See all 4 posts
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