Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris All the Roadrunning

At first glance, this may not seem the most likely pairing for a duets album. Harris is the reigning queen of real country music, while Knopfler found rock mega-fame as the leader of Dire Straits. Since their heyday, he has explored American roots music forms, and this new partnership works well. Emmylou is a harmony and duet vocalist with few peers (her partners have included Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young). The two vocalists sing in tandem, alternate leads, and harmonise superbly, giving this record variety in the process. Knopfler is not a great or overly memorable singer, but has a pleasant and laidback tone and delivery. His signature silvery guitar work is in fine shape here, while the Harris voice is as sublime as ever. The first single, "This Is Us,” has a cosy and mid-tempo feel, but slower tunes like "I Dug Up a Diamond” and "Rollin’ On” dig deeper and have a little more impact. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but All the Roadrunning is an accessible and enjoyable effort. (Mercury)