That Cimarron, Emmylou Harris' ninth regular album, was assembled largely from recording sessions held for her previous couple of records is no necessary reflection on its quality. In fact, Cimarron was a typical effort for Harris, presenting her usual mix of country favorites, songs borrowed from the pop/rock arena, and singer/songwriter discoveries. Most prominent among the last category was Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You," released as a single three months ahead of the LP. From the pop mainstream, Harris borrowed Poco's "Rose of Cimarron" and Bruce Springsteen's "The Price You Pay." The recent T.G. Sheppard country number one hit "The Last Cheater's Waltz" and "Tennessee Waltz," best remembered for Patti Page's pop hit, were given respectful readings. And there was a lovely arrangement of the traditional ballad "Spanish Is a Loving Tongue." But the most memorable songs on the album were its two other country Top Tens, Karen Brooks and Hank DeVito's "Tennessee Rose" and Paul Kennerley's "Born to Run." On the whole, the album maintained the high standard Harris had set with her previous releases, and it deserved its 1982 Grammy nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. Though it matched the success of recent Harris LPs on the country charts, hitting the Top Ten and remaining listed for more than nine months, it did not enjoy as great a pop crossover sale and became Harris' first regular album since her 1975 breakthrough not to go gold. This was more indicative of the overall decline in country's crossover success than of any deficiency of the album itself; nevertheless, Harris' commercial success had crested.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann