Texas-born Nanci Griffith has been writing since she was 12 years old, and making records since the late 1970s. Her career has spanned a variety of musical styles, including folk, country and what she calls "folkabilly." In 1992, her recording, Other Voices, Other Rooms, which features Griffith singing the songs of artists she considers major influences, won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. VOA's Katherine Cole reports Nanci Griffith has turned to the songs of others on her new CD, Ruby's Torch.
"When I Dream" is the opening track to Nanci Griffith's Ruby's Torch. It's very representative of the 10 other tracks on the new CD. This is not a collection of new folk songs, but rather an album of "torch songs," ones that tell the story of a sentimental, and usually unrequited love. Another good example is Jimmy Webb's "If These Walls Could Speak."
Nanci Griffith first drew acclaim in the mid-1980s as a songwriter in the tradition of other Texas storytellers like Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zant. But her instantly recognizable voice isn't for everyone, leaving Griffith to become known better for the hit songs she's written for Kathy Mattea, Emmylou Harris and others, rather than her own CDs.
Ruby's Torch could be the one to sway those non-fans. The Texas drawl and other vocal quirks that make Nanci Griffith "Nanci Griffith" work perfectly with the songs and arrangements she's chosen for this record.
In the liner notes for Ruby's Torch, Nanci Griffith says recording an entire collection of torch songs has been a dream come true, and something that fans have been asking her to do for years. Soon they'll be able to thank her in person, as Griffith is about to embark on a two-month tour of the U.S. and U.K., with additional dates to be scheduled throughout the year.
While Nanci Griffith has written plenty of her own torch songs, most of the songs on her new record come from other writers. Tom Waits weighs in with three of the 11 cuts, including the album's title track. There are only two Nanci Griffith originals on Ruby's Torch, "Brave Companion," and "Late Night Grande Hotel."