Picks and Pans Review: Bluebird

updated 02/13/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/13/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Emmylou Harris

She has been off doing special projects for such a longtime—with the Trio album and her own Angel Band gospel record—it might have been easy to forget that, on her own, Harris is the standard against whom all country-pop singers have to be judged. This lovely album is a reminder of how high that standard is. Produced by Harris and guitarist Richard Bennett (she married her previous co-producer; Paul Kennerley), it is a mixture of old and new, comforting and invigorating, poignant and exuberant. The McGarrigle sisters' "Love Is," with Kate and Anna McGarrigle joining Harris in some ethereally beautiful harmonizing, is a particular pleasure. But the old Andy Williams hit "Lonely Street," John Hiatt's "Icy Blue Heart," Rodney Crowell's "You've Been on My Mind" and "I Still Miss Someone," the country standard Johnny Cash wrote with his nephew Roy Jr., are nearly as memorable. Harris' voice rings penetratingly clear, and she displays it with an array of inflections that suggest real understanding as well as an uncommon musical resourcefulness. Harris is, at 41, in peak form and indeed singing in a way that suggests what might be found over a rainbow. (Warner Bros.)

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