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-- Rob Patterson

Nanci Griffith
Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back to Bountiful)
Elecktra

Sequels are common fare in the film industry -- and a lucky few are even more successful than their original counterparts. But musicians are rarely daring or talented enough (or both) to reprise a winning formula without the concept rapidly losing focus and becoming stale. Fortunately, Nanci Griffith possesses enough talent and guts to accomplish such a task, which is why Other Voices, Too amazes more often than it falls flat.

Returning to the concept of her Grammy-winning 1993 release, Other Voices, Other Rooms, Griffith has again recorded a collection of songs from other writers that have either inspired her or have helped shape the modern folk tradition. This time, she is accompanied by no less than 67 (!) guests from all generations and genres. The list includes Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, members of Hootie and the Blowfish, Toad the Wet Sprocket and even Buddy Holly's Crickets, all of whom ably assist her in interpreting songs from the likes of Stephen Foster, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny. Griffith also deserves credit for choosing tunes from lesser-known artists such as Texan Mickie Merkens (whose "Yarrington Town" is a particular standout), Tom Russell and Pat McLaughlin.

There are times on Other Rooms, Too when Griffith is more a spectator than a participant, allowing her guests to carry the songs while she lends background vocals and tackles a verse here and there. Problems arise only when too many different voices are caught up in the mix and the song itself is lost, as with Guy Clark's "Desperadoes Waiting for a Train." But despite some rough patches, Griffith has managed another sincere, articulate tribute to the music she cherishes, one that is both a fun listen and a worthy history lesson. (*** 1/2)

-- Jim Caligiuri

Press Ratings
***** Historic
**** Great
*** Worthy
** So-so
* Lame

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