Grievous Angel

(1974), 9/10
Parsons’ second album was compiled and released posthumously after his heroin overdose at the Joshua Tree memorial. It’s similar in feel to GP with Emmylou Harris again prominent, and the same backing band – it’s got the same mix of covers and originals, but his time the originals feel even deeper and more accomplished than before. The quality of the best work on Grievous Angel underlines what a tragedy Parsons’ death was, as ‘$1000 Wedding,’ ‘Return of the Grievous Angel’ and ‘Brass Buttons’ reach a new level of sophistication for Parsons. ‘$1000 Wedding’ is particularly excellent, with nicely understated lyrics; “And where’s the flowers for the girl, she only knew she loved the world/And why ain’t there one lonely horn, just one sad note to play.” This time the covers fit in better with his originals too: the cover of the Louvin Brothers’ ‘Cash on the Barrelhead’ is fun, while the album’s highlight is arguably the cover version of ‘Love Hurts’; Parsons and Emmylou Harris’ gentle duet is beautiful, a revelation if you’ve only heard Nazareth’s version. The whole album and Parsons’ career finishes with the elegaic and prayer-like ‘In My Time Of Darkness’. Grievous Angel is Parsons’ best album, correctly regarded as a country classic.

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