Emmylou Harris, All I Intended To Be (Nonesuch)

Emmylou Harris has become more interesting as her voice has become less perfect. Idiosyncrasy suits her, and she now moves from full, angelic “oooh”s to airy, sighed phrases with imperceptible ease. The effect in song is that she sounds like someone with more to say than she thinks she should utter, which gives almost any song she touches a curious edge. Is she addressing us, or is she singing to herself? Is she whispering what she really thinks, or is she trying to rally herself? The irony is that most of the songs are songs she has chosen, other people’s words that stand as her own, and her art has evolved to point where every song sounds like it comes from her. Even Merle Haggard’s “Kern River” sounds new and hers. All I Intended to Be isn’t a revelation, but that, too, seems to be part of her personality, and the album’s charm is that it feels like an extension of her.