No one does gravitas quite like JB. She does it without self-doubt. And if that great whipping silken flag of a soprano is rather diminished now (small mercies, you might say), Joan's sense of solemnity has not diminished one whit.
Here she is, with Steve Earle again behind the thick glass, accompanied by a really good small acoustic ensemble (starring Viktor Krauss and Tim O'Brien inter alia), addressing herself to several Earle compositions, plus songs by Elvis Costello ("Scarlet Tide"), Thea Gilmore ("The Lower Road") and Tom Waits (the title track). It is a brief affair and it passes like a cortège.
Pick of the Album: 'The Lower Road': a long and weary one, with nice harmonies