Though her choice of songs had always been eclectic, the album was regarded as a departure for Harris who, by the age of 48, had become something of an elder stateswoman in country music. It received almost universally positive reviews, making many critics' year-end "best of" lists, and pointed Harris' career in a somewhat different direction, where she would incorporate a harder, albeit plaintive edge that would single her out from the complacent, country music mainstream. As a career-redefining album, Wrecking Ball was likened to Marianne Faithfull's 1979 Broken English album and Johnny Cash's American Recordings. Wrecking Ball won the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Recording.
Harris covered Neil Young's song "Wrecking Ball", and the track includes harmonies by Young. Although the song was released by Harris as a 2-track CD single with Lucinda Williams' "Sweet Old World", reviewers did not consider the title track the high point on the album.
Daniel Lanois – mandolin on 1 2 3 5 8 10 11 12, electric guitar on 1 2 3 4 6 8 9 11 12, acoustic guitar on 2 7 11, bass on 1 3, dulcimer on 10, duet vocals on 1 9, chant vocals on 3, percussion on 4, bass pedals on 8
^The Journal of Country Music 1996 Volume 18 - Page 11 "One can hear that same sort of ache, an almost primordial loneliness, running through the whole of Wrecking Ball, her Grammy-winning current album. Having drawn on the catalogs of Earle, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan, and ..."
^CD Review Volume 12, Issues 1-9 - Page 13 1995 "Wrecking Ball peaks not with the Neil Young-penned title cut (with its author singing harmony) , but in the one-two punch of Lucinda Williams' "Sweet Old World" followed by Jimi Hendrix's "May This Be Love.".