Ditching the experimentation that’s been a hallmark of Emmylou Harris’s Nonesuch years, the country maverick returns to her tried-and-true 70s formula for All I Intended To Be. Returning to work with her ex-husband, Brian Ahearn, who produced her first 11 major label albums, Harris has assembled a top-notch support cast of Nashville pickers for a traditionally oriented session mixing a number of country classics (Merle Haggard’s Kern River and Billy Joe Shaver’s Old Five And Dimers Like Me) with a few of her own melancholic compositions dealing with loss, heartache and regret that could pass for standards. Like many backward steps, All I Intended To Be does not pay off. It suffers from its uniformly dark tone and funereal tempos, and Ahearn’s attempts to sweeten things with an overly polished mix only makes a sad situation worse.
Harris swings by Massey Hall Monday (June 16).