Nanci Griffith Produces All Star Album
Lesser known gem
"This project is dedicated to the memories of all the other voices no longer traversing our earthbound radio airwaves...we will sing your songs often, with great pride..." So begin the liner notes to this west Texas-bred folk singer's fifteenth album, and sequel to 1993's highly regarded "OtherVoices/Other Rooms" (Elektra 61464-2), though this new disc betters it with greater div- ersity of style (solo-duet- chorus), song, and performers as well as sheer beauty of production.
Acknowledging the artistic luxury afforded her to explore diverse music, she "hopes this col- lection of songs will bring to my listeners a memorable and joyous trip with the true companion- ship of all of these brilliant singers, writers and musicians"; and what a trip this is! Across nine- teen hand picked tunes, many a folkie classic, Nanci, her Blue Moon Orchestra band, and an im- pressive guest list (of way too many to name them all-just read the booklet) folk music standard bearers grace this very obvious labor of love with passionately inspired, true to the tradition performances that more than fulfill her mission to pay tribute to these artists.
Recognizing the magnitude of this endeavor, Nanci generously (and wisely) shares the stage with her guests, and it's clear they really want to be a part of it. That she could attract fellow singer-songwriters of such caliber demonstrates their committment to her artistic vision, and she is clearly triumphant in cobbling together (with long time collaborator Jim Rooney) this seamless tribute from several self-described spontaneous improvisational sessions, recorded in four diff- erent studios from Nashville to Dublin, and with so many high powered voices to contend with.
So many highlights-so little space! Start with Richard Thompson's rousing anthem "Wall Of Death" and segue to fellow Brit (but sadly passed on) Sandy Denny's spare, affecting, oft-covered "Who Knows Where The Time Goes." Tweak your memory for We Five's only hit, (When I woke up this mawnning) "You Were On My Mind", written by Sylvia Fricker. Nanci's four- voiced harmony sounds just as comfortable in folk garb as the original did in its San Francisco circa 1969 electric version. No doubt you'll still be singing along to her buttery smooth duet with Sonny Curtis on his "Walk Right Back", a big hit years ago for the Everly Brothers. All the guys join in, vying for the best lines in Guy Clark's indelibly imaged tale of the old oil drilling man and his young sidekick, the classic "Desperadoes Waiting For A Train."
What a line up: Guy, Jerry Jeff Walker, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and of course Nanci, all take a verse and harmony line. Not to be outdone, the gals: Lucinda Williams, Tish Hinojosa, Odetta and NG honor Woodie Guthrie's socially conscious (All they will call you will be...) "Deportee", his sad ode to Mexican migrant workers. How about a little dash of gospel with your folk? Try Tom Rush's and Eric Von Schmidt's "Wasn't That A Mighty Storm", referring to the deadly 1900 Galveston hurricane, "...that blew all the people away." Don't miss Rodney C's and Nanci's heart rending take on Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone," forty years old and still timeless. It is Griffith's album after all, cue the accapella "Darcy Farrow", grab a kleenex and take in her pure alto, complete with signature quirky accent/inflection.
For this sort of tribute album, it's as good as it gets. A superb MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!