"The main thing that has always been interesting about Emmylou Harris is her choice of material. She has written and co-written some good songs ("Boulder To Birmingham", for example), but succeeds primarily as an interpreter. This album can be singled out not only for its interpretive qualities, but for the incredible atmosphere created by producer Daniel Lanois. The recording has a similar dark, introspective ambience familiar from Lanois' work with Bob Dylan, and it works wonderfully with these songs.
There are no weak track on the disc. High quality songs by Neil Young and Bob Dylan ("Every Grain of Sand") are here along with lesser known gems by Lucinda Williams ("Sweet Old World") and Steve Earle ("Goodbye"). However, for this listener, the songs penned by Lanois himself are the real high points. All three are unforgettable. "Deeper Well", a collaboration with Harris, will haunt the listener long after a single hearing. These songs are nothing short of brilliant and deserve to be known by all interested in any kind of contemporary music.
Many of the songwriters featured on this recording participate in the performances as well (Dylan, is of course absent, but it is hard to imagine his song being any better than it is here).
An indispensible CD."
A transcedent, religious experience for any music fan
mackjay | 12/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a long term Emmylou fan, I avoided this album for years because of the wrong-headed negative reviews that centered too much on Producer Daniel Lanios' mystique. Having gotten this CD today for X-mas, I must say that not having this group of songs in my life for years has been my sad loss. I'm on my tenth play-through and I tell you, the haunting, Lanois-Guitar tracks layered over Larry Mullen Jr's insistant but not intrusive Irish drumming style transforms Emmylou's Cosmic American voice into a true Cosmic World voice. The peculiar arrangements don't annoy, they intrigue, giving you new reasons to respect the songwriters represented here (Dylan, Neil Young, Gillian Welch, Jimmi Hendrix and more). The fragility of her voice is a perfect foil to Lanois' wall of ethereal sound. If you have never bought an Emmylou album before because you consider her "country" (which she is NOT, but she can be perceived that way) then you must listen to this CD first. The wide variation in songs show you her depth but they are produced in such a way that they flow from one into the other to produce a truly hallowed sound. I was especially moved by Emmylou's take on Dylan's classic EVERY GRAIN OF SAND. It is of course, based on scripture and her reading of the song can be taken either as a personal revelation of the gift of life or as an affirmation of one's own faith. For more detailed notes on Lanois and the other songs consult the reviews below. Finally, if my husband the Head-banger can find something to adore about this CD along with myself, a Celtic Folk baby, then transcendent is the best word to describe the apeal."
MOODY, EXPERIMENTAL ALT ROCK CAMEO FROM HARRIS
Shashank Tripathi | Gadabout | 05/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No CD collection is complete without this marvellous venture by Harris, which includes breathtaking covers of numbers by stalwarts such as Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and Lucinda Williams among others. Giving the album its dark ambience and its almost primal percussions is Daniel Lanois, better known for his work with U2 or Peter Gabriel. And it shows. I thought of Harris as primarily a country/folk singer, but here she breaks free from the conventions of cheatin', hurtin', pickup trucks and what not; her song-selection addresses real issues here. I highly recommend picking up Wrecking Ball, a work of exceptional grace, depth, and beauty. Noteworthy number: "Deeper Well"."
Emmylou as you never heard her before.
James Ferguson | Vilnius, Lithuania | 12/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've always enjoyed Emmylou Harris. She has struck me as one of the most honest performers in Country Western music. But, what I enjoy most about Emmylou Harris is that she is not afraid to take chances and this recording is a major departure from her previous work. She has drifted into that no man's land of folk and grunge music to create a very compelling album which seems to owe much to Neil Young, with whom she collaborated on this collection of plaintive ballads. Those used to her sweet melodic voice may be disappointed, because Emmylou really bares herself on this one, warts and all. The title is very apt because she shatters many of myths that surround her, and leaves you aching for more. It is such a rich recording. Each song gives you an aspect of Emmuylou Harris which you didn't know before."
Claude Bourggeois | Moncton, Canada | 06/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow. How to convey in words just how brilliant this album is ? Let me try. This album is deep, spiritual, reflective, sad and hauntingly breathtaking. Every cut is a standout. "Where will I be" is spine-tingling--a song about death and questioning when and why this event eventually happens to us all. "Goodbye" is so painfully beautiful it is hard to listen to the first few times because it makes you want to cry of heartbreak. "All my Tears" is a powerful song that teaches us that we need not be afraid of death if we just have faith. "Wrecking Ball" is dreamy, a bit bizarre, but dreamy nonetheless. "Sweet Old World" is another hard one to listen to. If you've ever lost a loved one to suicide you will know why. The song mentions all the things a person misses when cutting his/her life short. "Goin Back to Harlan" is a sweet number as is the powerful "Walk Across Texas". I don't think anyone else on the planet could pull off such a complex, heavy album and end up in heavenly territory. Emmylou is a true artist and is just brilliant-her vocals are like none other and resonate with pure unadulterated emotion. You need to get this album--it's just that good."