Black Music Matters Festival

Emmylou Harris

All I Intended To Be – 2008 (Nonesuch)

Reviewed by David McPherson

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Emmylou Harris, the woman with the sweetest voice in country-folk music - who was recently inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame - returns with her first solo record since 2003. A mix of choice covers and originals, this assembles an A list of Nashville players to back Harris, but the most important instrument - her voice - remains the forefront and focus of these 13 songs.

Marked by themes of faith and forgiveness, the disc was recorded with ex-husban Brian Ahern in Music City. The record also features old friends Kate and Anna McGarrigle, who co-wrote and sing on two cuts ("Sailing Around the Room" and "How She Could Sing the Wildwood Flower") and Dolly Parton. Covers include a venerable version of Tracy Chapman's "All That You Have Is Your Soul," a spectacular duet with John Starling on Billy Joe Shaver's timeless tune "Old Five and Dimers Like Me," and the haunting Merle Haggard lament of loss "Kern River." The best of the new material is the sad and storied tale of dreams "Broken Man's Lament."

Even though it's been five long years since the last Harris gift, the weathered and wise songbird illustrates with this dynamite disc that like the old adage says: good things come to those who wait.