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Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell know a thing or two about what remains after the stage lights fade and the glisten of youth folds into wrinkles: it’s the songs. Friends for decades and collaborators on 2013’s Grammy-winning Old Yellow Moon, neither has sought to make their mark with the splash of fleeting celebrity. Rather, they’ve built their legacies with melodies, lyrics and timeless voices that lace together the most permanent of humanity’s living records. In fact, this could be a theme of their second duets collection, The Traveling Kind, out May 12th on Nonesuch.

Recorded at Sound Emporium and House of Blues Studio, both in Nashville, the album is a continuation of a partnership that began decades ago but didn’t see itself to a true duet collaboration until Old Yellow Moon. Harris first covered Crowell’s “Bluebird Wine” on her 1975 album Pieces of the Sky; he played guitar in her band and she backed him on his first solo LP. “We vowed the first night we met in 1974 to make a record,” Crowell told Rolling Stone. It took over 30 years to see it through the first time, but only two to make the follow-up. “I finally grew into my voice,” he said, “and got comfortable with the sound of it, and when we made [Old Yellow Moon], I went in and said, ‘OK, I’m ready. I can deliver on my end of this duet partnership.'”

Produced by Joe Henry (Billy Bragg, Elvis Costello), the record also offers versions of a few of those friends’ beloved songs, like Lucinda Williams’ “I Just Wanted to See You So Bad” and Amy Allison’s “Her Hair Was Red,” which is a subtly faithful take on the nasal cult singer’s mournful ode that puts the lyrics into sharp focus.

“I love the sound of two voices together,” Harris said, “whether it’s two women or two men or a man and a woman. It just creates a third voice.” A third voice, that propels The Traveling Kind and the melodies that etch their way into our permanent songbook.