With 21 solo albums under her belt, 64-year-old country music hall of famer Emmylou Harris has earned the right to take stock. So Hard Bargain is often concerned with the passing of time, particularly absent friends and collaborators: Gram Parsons is eulogised on "The Road" and Kate McGarrigle is given similar treatment on "Darlin' Kate". And while there's time for politics ("New Orleans" considers the state of the city after Katrina), there's also "Big Black Dog", about an actual hound ("When you throw a ball/ She'll always go and fetch it") who's seemingly the only constant in a changing world.
Emmylou Harris: Hard Bargain – review
Gareth Grundy is deputy editor of the Observer Food Monthly. A former deputy editor of the Observer Music Monthly, he also writes about pop for the New Review