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Record Rating: *****

Mark Knopfler And Emmylou Harris - All The Roadrunning - Universal Though other performers may have sold more records and earned greater fame, few have left as profound an impact on contemporary music as Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris. Both are artists whose body of work is so consistently strong that one could pull 20 songs at random from their catalogue, string them together and end up with a very listenable disc.

So getting Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris to make an album together was a truly inspired idea, and itís not simply because they are two of the finest voices in rock and country music at this time. This collaboration is nothing new for Harris, who has partnered with virtually every important roots and country artist of the last four decades and never failed to make them shine just a little brighter for that. Recorded in fits and starts over the course of seven years, All The Roadrunning finds Knopfler and Harris displaying an obvious affinity and respect for one another's talents, inspiring superb performances in one another. Take two gifted artists who need proper direction and the results should fall neatly into place. In truth, that's a formula as likely as not to fail, but on here the experiment works brilliantly. Across a dozen duets, no one is showing off; these are just artists plying their craft.

Though billed as a duet album, for the most part, itís really a Knopfler album. Of the albums twelve tracks, ten are original compositions from the Dire Straits front man himself that date back to Knopfler's Sailing To Philadelphia sessions, while eleven-time Grammy winner Harris adds one new track and her gorgeous Belle Starr to the set. Knopfler's bluesy guitar picking and minimalist vocals work well in complimenting Harrisís sensational soprano all over this set, as highlights This Is Us and Right Now will concur. Some of the set's most pleasurable moments are when the two harmonize and fuse together, offering a fine thumbnail of the depth and breadth of their individual artistry. A single listen to the best two songs this album has to offer ~ the gorgeous Love And Happiness For You and the 9/11-inspired ballad If This Is Goodbye ~ comes at you with a quiet confidence; this is really good music on all fronts. So if you're a fan of either of these artists, you will not be disappointed.

This is a rare example of an all-star collaborative effort that truly shows everyone involved to their best advantage. All The Roadrunning ranks with the best of both the headlinersí work. The album reveals two artists still eager for new challenges, on both the literary and musical front, and hopefully in future thereís more still to come. Well recommended.

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