emmylou harris Stumble Into Grace (Nonesuch) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Silver fox Emmylou's always been one of my older-lady role models, cuz she's such a paragon of class, and her newest record carries on that trend. Tastefully blurring the lines between folk, roots, gentle pop and bare-bones country, Stumble Into Grace is a restrained gem of a disc. Mixer-producer Malcolm Burn pushes Harris's clear, ageless vocals to the front of every track, letting the other elements - Dan Lanois's atmospheric electric guitar, accordion and string arrangements, Rhodes accents and backing vocals from a slew of alt-country all-stars and, weirdly enough, Luscious Jackson alumna Jill Cunniff (!) -- hover like satellites in orbit. It's a smart move. Nothing here, from the devastating elegy to June Carter Cash to the folkie chanson en français Plaisir D'Amour, sounds dated. Pure grace.