Tickets are on sale now for Emmylou's two Texas dates -- August 5 at The Majestic in Dallas, August 6 at Stubb's in Austin (presale password is: intend2b - ends tomorrow at 10am when general onsale begins).
Buddy Miller will be opening the show in Austin, and I sure hope he'll do so in Dallas as well since that's the show I'm attending (!). Alas, no Houston show announced at this time.
You can watch Emmylou's interview Charlie Rose this week below (about 16 minutes)...
Emmylou Harris is rightfully praised for many reasons, but chief among them is her seeking spirit, which has taken her from country radio in the ‘70’s to a broad musical palette that includes both bluegrass and the “Cosmic American Music” that her mentor Gram Parsons also embraced.
The result is a discography unlike any living musical legend that spans nearly the entire expanse of American music and its influences. Her latest effort All I Intended To Be manages to capture many - though not all - of Emmylou’s many facets, and it’s the closest she’s come to a career overview on a single record. Still, diehard Hot Band fans will be disappointed as Harris is more than happy to act her age (a vibrant and luminous 61 years) and is certainly still drawing from the same well that has fed her last four albums. But spiritually at least, the album is a return to her roots, reuniting her with producer (and ex-husband) Brian Ahern as well as host of old musical friends. Furthermore, Harris successfully blends her well-known penchant for unearthing song treasures with her own recently developed skills as a songwriter.
The album seems to be roughly divided into two distinct halves. The first is filled with more fleshed-out arrangements, and the song choices reflect a close tie to the material on her last two albums (which were mostly written or co-written by Harris). One of the gems is Harris’ “Gold” (recorded for but not included on 1995’s Wrecking Ball), which is given a folky treatment and sprinkled beautifully with harmonies from Dolly Parton. That song sits wonderfully beside Mark Germino’s gut-wrenching “Broken Man’s Lament,” highlighted by a crescendo of voices and instruments similar to the kind that Patty Griffin has perfected. Griffin’s own “Moon Song,” an outtake from her most recent album, continues the perfect pairing of singer and song for which Harris is widely known. The first of two co-writes with Kate and Anna McGarrigle is a song that conjures the spirit of the Carter Family, lyrically and musically. The opening track “Shores Of White Sand” not only plucks the song from a Karen Brooks album but lifts the basic track directly from her 1980’s version (which was produced by Ahern). That sly touch creates a nice bookend for the rest of the album. Brooks herself adds backing vocals to another track or two.
The second half of the album kicks off with Billy Joe Shaver’s “Old Five and Dimers Like Me,” and it reunites Emmylou with John Starling and members of Seldom Scene, whose friendship with Harris predates even her association with Parsons. The selection of that song, along with Merle Haggard’s “Kern River” immediately after, marks a return to country territory, but the arrangements themselves are more bluegrass than honky-tonk. The last three songs on the album share a similar sound, and some might complain that the album loses steam down the stretch. But the arranging and sequencing seem deliberate, and once the mood of “Old Five and Dimers” is set, it is wisely maintained through the record’s conclusion, a version of “Beyond The Great Divide” (with Starling once again lending support).
That's all without mentioning Harris’ memorable cover of the Tracy Chapman nugget “All That You Have Is Your Soul” or Emmylou’s “Take That Ride” (another great original) or the terrific rendition of Jude Johnstone’s “Hold On”. There’s just not a clunker in the bunch, even at a generous 13 tracks. Recorded over a three-year span, All I Intended To Be is supremely crafted without ever seeming fussy or labored. It's perfectly valid to point out that this record isn't exactly a groundbreaking achievement, though very few of Emmylou's records, with the exception of Wrecking Ball, would merit that description. It's impossible (for me anyway) to hear any of her records without the entire context of her brilliant career. But All I Intended To Be provides a perfect snapshot of Emmylou as she is today, while simultaneously paying tribute to the enormous span of influences that have fed her music for well over 30 years.
(BTW, Emmylou will peform "Shores Of White Sand" on David Letterman tonight (Thursday, June 12). Tift Merritt will join her on backing vocals!)
Four-and-a-half years is a long time to wait for a new album. Even though Emmylou Harris has stayed busy since the release of 2003's Stumble Into Grace, there's no substitute for a new solo record. My copy of All I Intended To Be should be arriving later today (I hope), but it will be in stores on Tuesday. I've already listened to the album once, and I feel pretty safe in echoing the sentiments of some early critical praise. Though it doesn't push the envelope of Emmylou's sound as much as her last three albums, it still stands solidly alongside those records. Though the producer of her 1970's catalog Brian Ahern returns, Intended is by no means an attempt to revisit her early years.
If you ask me to describe the music that Emmylou records these days, I guess I'd call them folk hymns. She can still tear it up in concert, but it's obvious that at 61 years of age, she is drawn to an introspective brand of songwriting, whether unearthing the songs of others or writing them herself. That might continue to disappoint fans longing for a return to honky-tonk glory, but for my part, I find no greater joy than listening to Emmylou Harris follow this path.
Emmylou will perform tomorrow morning on the Today Show, followed by an appearance on Letterman on Thursday night. She'll be backed on Letterman by none other than Ms. Tift Merritt.
All I Intended To Be is available from Amazon for a ridiculously low $9.99. It is also available on 180-gram 2-disc vinyl, with an enclosed CD of the album. You can check that out at Acoustic Sounds. Both the CD and vinyl editions can also be purchased directly from Nonesuch, with access to MP3's at midnight tonight.
UPDATE: I missed this interview with Emmylou in the UK magazine Clash:
"I believe my record company – Nonesuch, who are so great – want to re-release ‘Wrecking Ball’ with the outtakes and the DVD. I would really like that. I’m hoping that Rhino will at some point re-release ‘The Ballad Of Sally Rose’ with all the original demos, because I really still believe in that album, even though it was a commercial disaster from which I barely escaped! (Laughs)"
That is AWESOME news on both fronts, but especially on Wrecking Ball - that's pretty much one of my dream re-issues.
UPDATE: The folks over at the Emmylou chat board let out a collective groan when it was discovered that Emmylou's appearance on Today would be during the Kathie Lee/Hoda hour. You can see the six-minute interview (no performance) below -- submitted merely as evidence that Kathie Lee wasn't that bad, and whoever wrote the questions actually reviewed their notes first. And only about one minute of the interview was dedicated to comparing husbands and dogs...
CMT is hosting a listening party for Emmylou Harris' new album All I Intended To Be, due this coming Tuesday. I'm not sure that these CMT links work outside of the US, which means Chris and Andy are gonna be slapping their foreheads. Drop me a line if you find another listening link, or if the CMT player does work internationally.
In the meantime, you can view further installments of Emmy's video interviews over at the Nonesuch Journal. And how 'bout another cool picture...
My dad sent me a text message last night that he and his wife just got tix to see Emmylou tonight in Monterey, CA. They are vacationing out there and just stumbled upon it. Geez, the luck -- I once planned a whole vacation around seeing Emmylou at Humphrey's in San Diego, only to have it canceled due to her illness (one of the few shows I think she's had to cancel in the past few years). Insult to injury - Joe Henry was slated to open for her.
Anyway... Emmylou's new record All I Intended To Be (due June 10) is available for pre-order in the Nonesuch store. And yes, it will also be available as 180-gram 2-Disc vinyl, which will include a bonus CD of the album (plus the usual Nonesuch MP3 downloads on the day of release). Perhaps the occasion calls for yet another great publicity shot from Rocky Schenck...
BBC Radio program(me) The Ticket has a great interview with Emmylou today. She discusses the new album, and we get to hear some great clips from the new record All I Intended To Be (due June 10 on Nonesuch).
But this post is really just an excuse to use this outstanding photo by Rocky Schenck...