Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - All the Roadrunning

Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris
All the Roadrunning

(Warner Bros./Nonesuch)

The Music Box's #12 album of 2006

First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2006, Volume 13, #5

Written by John Metzger


Despite a seven-year gestation period that found Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris sporadically slipping into recording studios whenever their paths would cross, All the Roadrunning is a surprisingly seamless set of material — poised at the crossroads of country, folk, and blues — that plays to the strengths of its participants. Throughout the warmly lit and deeply intimate affair, the duo largely portray themselves as they take a decidedly mature approach to their ruminations upon love, both lost and found. Yet, given its frequently slow-moving gait as well as its elegantly tasteful production flourishes, the collection also is so unassuming and effortless that initially it’s all too easy to overlook the emotional intensity that lies beneath its surface.

Fans of Harris likely will quibble over the notion that at times on All the Roadrunning, she’s relegated merely to providing harmony to Knopfler’s world-weary vocals. After all, the album’s finest moments — the playful, sexual taunts of the Cajun-flavored Red Staggerwing; the fond, familial reflections of the jaunty This Is Us; and the mournful devastation of If This Is Goodbye — occur whenever the pair obtain equal footing. A closer examination, however, provides proof positive that the entirety of the effort is impeccably crafted, finely honed, and wholly inspired.

On the opening Beachcombing, for example, Knopfler sends silvery slivers of guitar to ripple gently across the song’s sad-eyed regrets, while Harris’ backing vocals cinematically shift from haunting him to guiding him home. Elsewhere, Beyond My Wildest Dreams dabbles in the sort of blue-hued yearning that was pioneered and perfected by Roy Orbison, and the title track’s tale of life on the road is gorgeously shaded with Celtic intonations. Devoid of pretense, All the Roadrunning’s subtle grace and beauty might not be immediately apparent to some, but given time, it ultimately reveals itself to be a genuinely affecting collection of sublimely sophisticated fare.  starstarstarstar


Of Further Interest...

Steve Earle - Sidetracks

Charlie Louvin - Charlie Louvin / self-titled

Willie Nelson - Teatro


All the Roadrunning is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2006 The Music Box