Album: Emmylou Harris, All I Intended To Be (Nonesuch)

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Her 21st album reunites Emmylou Harris for the first time in a quarter-century with the producer Brian Ahern, who helmed her earliest records.

The change makes little difference to her sound, which keeps on the decorous side of pristine, profiting from the tasteful virtuosity of players like dobro legend Mike Auldridge, keyboardist Glen D Hardin and multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan, and the vocal talents of Vince Gill, Buddy Miller, Dolly Parton and the McGarrigles.

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Harris is primarily a shrewd interpreter of others' material, locating the Springsteen-esque blue-collar tragedy in Mark Germino's "Broken Man's Lament", and rendering Tracy Chapman's "All That You Have Is Your Soul" a less ponderous sermon; though her own songs, particularly "Sailing Round the Room" and "Gold" ("No matter how bright I glittered, I could never be gold"), show no shortfall in quality. But the preoccupation with loss, ageing and death gives the album a gloomy, valedictory tone that compares unfavourably with the brio of Parton's album.

Pick of the album: 'Gold', 'Broken Man's Lament', 'Sailing Round the Room'

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