June 06, 1983 12:00 PM

Delia Bell

She hails from Hugo, Okla., sings unslicked blue-grass and is as country as hominy. The daughter of a sharecropper, Bell is married to an ironworker and has a 22-year-old bricklayer son. She has ‘ been performing with respected bluegrasser Bill Grant since 1971. Now she promises to become more than a cult figure, thanks to Emmylou Harris. Emmylou found one of Delia’s obscure LPs in a record bin and discovered an emotion-packed voice that she imagined was what a daughter of Hank Williams and Kitty Wells might have sounded like. She and Bell finally met three years ago, and this LP is the fruit of their friendship. In her producing debut, Harris leads Delia through 10 charming tunes, among them the mournful Will You Miss Me, George Jones’ passionate Flame in My Heart and the traditional Lone Pilgrim. Juicing up Delia’s sprucy soprano is a dandy crowd of pickers and pounders, including string wizards Carl Jackson and Byron Berline, pedal steel player Steve Fishell and drummer Don Heffington. Emmylou adds her understated vocal harmonies and plays acoustic guitar, too. The result is perhaps the finest bluegrass project since Roses in the Snow, originally recorded by Bell, became the title song for Harris’ seminal album in 1980. If Bell is benefiting from Harris’ clout in landing a major record deal, she has returned the favor, expanding Emmylou’s reputation as a Jill-of-all-musical-trades.

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