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Nanci Griffith

Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back to Bountiful) – 1998 (Elektra)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Nanci Griffith

Nanci Griffith pays homage to some of her favorite songwriters by reworking tunes transcending time and genre. The guest list is impressive. Country fans will be most familiar with "Wings of a Dove," a moving duet with Lucinda Williams, and Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone," on which Griffith is joined by Rodney Crowell.

One of the highlights is Tom Russell's "Canadian Whiskey," with Ian Tyson sharing lead vocals. Russell returns the favor by performing with Griffith on Tyson's "Summer Wages." Several tunes feature the songwriter teaming with Griffith. On "Walk Right Back" Sonny Curtis and fellow Crickets Joe B. Mauldin and J.I. Allison join Griffith on the tune Curtis wrote for the Everlys. Nashville legend Harlan Howard is also on hand to recite a passage from "Streets of Baltimore."

The arrangements are best when kept simple. The duets work well on most tunes, but on a few (including "Desperados Waiting For a Train," "Deportee," and "He Was a Friend of Mine") Griffith and co-producer Jim Rooney try doing too much, and the harmonies become muddled and the transitions awkward. Griffith's latest release was conceived as a follow up to 1993's "Other Voices." In her liner notes, Griffith suggests there are still several writers whose work she would like to acknowledge. A third volume would certainly be in order.