CRAFT RECORDINGS AND ROUNDER RECORDS CELEBRATE NANCI GRIFFITH WITH TWO BRAND-NEW RELEASES

CRAFT RECORDINGS AND ROUNDER RECORDS CELEBRATE NANCI GRIFFITH WITH TWO BRAND-NEW RELEASES

In 2021, the music industry lost one of its finest talents: singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Nanci Griffith. The Texas-born, GRAMMY Award-winning artist, who would have celebrated her 70th birthday next week, was revered for her compelling storytelling, her distinctive vocals, and her special brand of Americana (which she dubbed “folkabilly”). During her nearly 45-year career, Griffith released 18 studio albums, placed multiple singles on Billboard’s country charts, made regular appearances on The David Letterman Show and Austin City Limits, and saw many of her songs become hits for other artists (Dolly Parton, Kathy Mattea, and Suzy Bogguss among them). Along her journey, she amassed countless fans – several of whom, including Darius Rucker, the Indigo Girls, and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, were lucky enough to collaborate with her.

 

Griffith’s trailblazing legacy will be honored through two special releases arriving this September. The first, Working in Corners, reissues Griffith’s earliest – and long out-of-print – albums, including her 1978 debut, There’s a Light Beyond These Woods, 1982’s Poet in My Window, 1984’s Once in a Very Blue Moon, and 1986’s GRAMMY-nominated The Last of the True Believers (featuring “Love at the Five and Dime” and “Goin’ Gone”). Rounding out the collection are rare photos and ephemera, plus liner notes by Holly Gleason (Rolling Stone, Spin, New York Times) and producer Jim Rooney, who worked closely with Griffith during this period. Rooney, who co-produced the box set, also weaves in memories from a myriad of Griffith’s friends, peers, and collaborators. Set for release on September 8 via Craft Recordings, Working in Corners will be available as 4-CD and 4-LP vinyl box sets, while There’s a Light Beyond These Woods, Poet in My Window, and Once in a Very Blue Moon will make their long-awaited return to digital platforms. 

 

Griffith’s music will also be celebrated through the all-star tribute, More Than a Whisper: Celebrating The Music of Nanci Griffith. Arriving September 22 via Rounder Records on vinyl, CD, and digital, the album features Griffith’s friends, collaborators, and fans interpreting her most beloved songs, including Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett and Kathy Mattea, Shawn Colvin, John Prine and Kelsey Waldon, Sarah Jarosz, Steve Earle, and Mary Gauthier, who also shares her admiration for Griffith in heartfelt liner notes. Recorded over several years in studios across America, More Than a Whisper also includes stirring contributions from Brandy Clark, Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle, Iris DeMent, Todd Snider, and Aaron Lee Tasjan, while Ida Mae and The War and Treaty both appear exclusively on the expanded CD, digital, and HD versions of the album. All proceeds from More Than a Whisper will benefit Nashville’s Cumberland Heights, a non-profit treatment facility offering hope and healing to those affected by drug and alcohol addiction.

 

***

 

Born in Seguin, TX and raised in Austin, Nanci Griffith (1953 – 2021) began writing and performing songs as a teenager, drawing inspiration from Loretta Lynn and Townes Van Zandt, as well as from Southern literary heroes like Carson McCullers and Tennessee Williams. By her early 20s, Griffith was well entrenched in the local music scene, where she caught the ears of Michael Williams, who released her 1978 debut on his label, B.F. Deal. Williams was immediately captivated by the young artist. “There was never a moment when I felt like she didn’t know what she was doing,” he recalls. “She was probably the most talented person I had the privilege of working with.” Captured on a two-track, There’s a Light Beyond These Woods was comprised nearly entirely of original material (including “I Remember Joe,” “John Philip Griffith,” and “Song for Remembered Heroes”). The stripped-down folk set allowed Griffith’s poetic tales of love and loss to take center stage, introducing her as a promising new songwriter.

Shortly after, Griffith relocated to Houston, where she continued to hone her craft – most notably through regular gigs at the hallowed venue, Anderson Fair. There, she frequently shared the stage with Lyle Lovett, who found himself in awe of his friend’s writing. “What struck me about Nanci’s songs was the narrative quality,” he recalls. “It inspires your imagination to fill in the blanks and to want to know more and to listen again and again.”

Before long, Griffith embarked on her next record, working with guitarist Brian Wood to create fuller arrangements and incorporate a broader range of instrumentation. Released in 1982, Poet in My Window found Griffith gaining confidence as a songwriter, vocalist, and producer, as she wove heartachingly beautiful tales of loneliness in songs like “Waltzing with the Angels,” “Workin’ in Corners,” and “Marilyn Monroe/Neon and Waltzes.” As a special bonus, the CD edition of Working in Corners, as well as the digital version of Poet in My Window, will also include a rare track from the era, “Can’t Love Wrong.”

Soon, Griffith was expanding her base, playing shows in New York, Boston, and Nashville. It was the latter city, however, where she chose to record her third album and Rounder Records debut, Once in a Very Blue Moon. Produced by Americana pioneer, Jim Rooney, the 1984 release marked a significant shift for Griffith, as she edged away from her folk roots. Aided by some of the finest country and bluegrass musicians – including guitarist Pat Alger, banjoist Béla Fleck, fiddler Mark O’Connor, and veteran pedal steel player, Lloyd Green – Griffith explored the breath of her vocal abilities, as she sang about the thrills and solitude of life on the road. The artist shines particularly bright on the plucky “Mary & Omie,the intimate “Time Alone, and the emotive “I’m Not Drivin’ These Wheels.” Other highlights include the Pat Alger/Gene Levine-penned title track (famously covered a year later by Dolly Parton), as well as “If I Were the Woman You Wanted,” written by Lovett, who also appears as a backing vocalist throughout the album.

 

The following year, as her star power grew even brighter, Griffith settled in Nashville, where she reunited with Rooney, Alger, Fleck, Green, and O’Connor, among others, to make her fourth LP, The Last of the True Believers. Deepening her ties to country music, Griffith recorded some of her most enduring classics, including the tender “Love at the Five & Dime” and the Alger/Bill Dale/Fred Koller-penned “Goin’ Gone,” both of which would become major hits for country star Kathy Mattea in the coming years. Other favorites include the uptempo “Banks of the Pontchartrain” and the playful “Lookin’ For the Time (Working Girl),” as well as the heartfelt “More Than a Whisper” and “The Wing and the Wheel.”

 

Released in 1986, The Last of the True Believers served as Griffith’s breakthrough – not only earning her broad critical acclaim but also her first GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Album. With that success began a new era – one that would lead to a major label deal and international fame. Suddenly, Nanci Griffith was no longer Texas’ best-kept secret. In her liner notes, Holly Gleason elaborates, “To the rest of the world, she was a revelation. A stunning songwriter who dissolved the neon colors, the synthesizers and gated drums of that moment in favor of fingers on strings [and] smiles between musicians as tales of local characters and best friends…were delivered with great joy.”

 

But that’s not the end of the story. While the albums collected in Working in Corners showcase a young artist forging her path, Rounder’s More Than a Whisper: Celebrating The Music of Nanci Griffith continues the through line, as artists from multiple generations and musical backgrounds honor her legacy. Many of the songs chosen for the album were revisited and reimagined by Griffith throughout her career, while several selections became memorable hits for others. What is most evident in these latest iterations, however, is the timeless appeal of Griffith’s work.

 

More Than a Whisper opens with a dreamy performance of “You Can’t Go Home Again,taken from Poet in My Window, by the GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter, Sarah Jarosz, while Iris DeMent (a frequent guest with The Blue Moon Orchestra – Griffith’s revolving, and often star-studded, backing band) interprets “Banks of the Pontchartrain” from The Last of the True Believers. Also from that album is a duet of “Love at the Five & Dime,” covered impeccably by Kelsey Waldon and the legendary, late John Prine, who, like Griffith, was renowned for spinning masterful tales of everyday life.

 

Another stirring duet comes from two of country music’s biggest stars, Lyle Lovett and Kathy Mattea, who reimagine “Trouble in the Fields,” off 1987’s Lone Star State of Mind. The album – which marked Griffith’s first to break Billboard’s Country Top 40 – also includes “Ford Econoline” (covered by Todd Snider), and the Judy Gold-penned “From a Distance.” While the powerful song would become an international hit for Bette Midler in 1990, Griffith was the first to make it her own. A soulful rendition of the song by husband-and-wife duo The War and Treaty is available exclusively on the CD and digital editions of More Than a Whisper.

 

“Outbound Plane,” which Griffith co-wrote with Tom Russell, would also have multiple lives. Featured on the 1988 bestseller Little Love Affairs, the high-energy track became a Top 10 country hit for Suzy Boggus in 1992. Now, GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin transforms it into a reflective, acoustic ballad. Also off Little Love Affairs is the Texas-focused “Gulf Coast Highway,” which Griffith later revisited as a duet with Darius Rucker on 1997’s Blue Roses from the Moons. Covered over the years by such icons as Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson, the moving song is performed here impeccably by CMA Award winner Brandy Clark. Harris makes an appearance as well, paying tribute to her longtime friend with a cover of “Love Wore a Halo (Back Before the War),also taken from the 1988 LP.

 

In 1989, Griffith turned her attention toward pop with the Gyn Johns-produced Storms. Her first of many titles to land on the Billboard 200, Storms featured singles like “It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go,” in which Griffith spoke to the turmoil in Northern Ireland while drawing parallels to a divided America. More than 30 years later, Steve Earle’s rendition feels timelier than ever, as the decorated singer, songwriter, author, and actor deftly blends Celtic flavors with American roots. Also taken from Storms is “Listen to the Radio,” covered by the GRAMMY-winning bluegrass artists Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle, as well as “Radio Fragile,” Griffith’s ode to singer-songwriter Phil Ochs, performed by British duo Ida Mae as a digital/CD exclusive. Rounding out the collection is Aaron Lee Tasjan’s moving delivery of “Late Night Grande Hotel,” which served as the title track to Griffith’s acclaimed 1991 album.

 

In her liner notes, singer, songwriter, and author Mary Gauthier (who performs The Last of the True Believers“More Than a Whisper”) writes, “[Griffith] was a songwriter’s songwriter in a time when the word songwriter, especially in Texas, was synonymous with male. She was an absolute trailblazer, and more often than not, the only woman in the room. . . . She had to fight for every square inch of every stage she stood on, and she did it on her own terms. She led with her mind, not her body. In spite of the back-breaking yoke of bias against women in music who do not lead with their sexuality, Nanci broke through.”

 

Griffith’s indelible musical journey was celebrated throughout her life, including with multiple GRAMMY nods and one win (for 1993’s Other Voices, Other Rooms). In 1995, she was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame and, that same year, was honored with the World Folk Music Association’s Kate Wolf Memorial Award. In 2008, she became the second-ever recipient of the prestigious Americana Trailblazer Award, while in 2010, she accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Last year, Griffith was posthumously inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame.

 

 

Working in Corners Tracklist (Vinyl)

 

LP 1: There's a Light Beyond These Woods

 

Side A

  1. I Remember Joe
  2. Alabama Soft-Spoken Blues
  3. Michael’s Song
  4. Song for Remembered Heroes
  5. West Texas Sun

 

Side B

  1. There’s a Light Beyond These Woods
  2. Dollar Matinee
  3. Montana Backroads
  4. John Philip Griffith

 

LP 2: Poet in My Window

 

Side A

  1. Marilyn Monroe/Neon and Waltzes
  2. Heart of a Miner
  3. Julie Anne
  4. You Can’t Go Home Again
  5. October Reasons

 

Side B

  1. Wheels
  2. Workin’ in Corners
  3. Waltzing with the Angels
  4. Trouble with Roses
  5. Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown
  6. Poet in My Window

 

LP 3: Once in a Very Blue Moon

 

Side A

  1. Ghost in the Music
  2. Love Is a Hard Waltz
  3. Roseville Fair
  4. Mary & Omie
  5. Friend Out in the Madness
  6. I’m Not Drivin’ These Wheels (Bring the Prose to the Wheel)

 

Side B

  1. Ballad of Robin Winter-Smith
  2. Daddy Said
  3. Once in a Very Blue Moon
  4. If I Were the Woman You Wanted
  5. Year Down in New Orleans
  6. Spin on a Red Brick Floor

 

LP 4: The Last of the True Believers

 

Side A

  1. The Last of the True Believers
  2. Love at the Five & Dime
  3. St. Olav’s Gate
  4. More than a Whisper
  5. Banks of the Pontchartrain

 

Side B

  1. Lookin’ for the Time (Working Girl)
  2. Goin’ Gone
  3. One of These Days
  4. Love’s Found a Shoulder
  5. Fly by Night
  6. The Wing & the Wheel

 

 

 

Working In Corners Tracklist (CD)

 

Disc 1: There's a Light Beyond These Woods

  1. I Remember Joe
  2. Alabama Soft-Spoken Blues
  3. Michael’s Song
  4. Song for Remembered Heroes
  5. West Texas Sun
  6. There’s a Light Beyond These Woods
  7. Dollar Matinee
  8. Montana Backroads
  9. John Philip Griffith

 

Disc 2: Poet in My Window

  1. Can't Love Wrong*
  2. Marilyn Monroe/Neon and Waltzes
  3. Heart of a Miner
  4. Julie Anne
  5. You Can’t Go Home Again
  6. October Reasons
  7. Wheels
  8. Workin’ in Corners
  9. Waltzing with the Angels
  10. Trouble with Roses
  11. Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown
  12. Poet in My Window

 

*Bonus Track

 

Disc 3: Once in a Very Blue Moon

  1. Ghost in the Music
  2. Love Is a Hard Waltz
  3. Roseville Fair
  4. Mary & Omie
  5. Friend Out in the Madness
  6. I’m Not Drivin’ These Wheels (Bring the Prose to the Wheel)
  7. Ballad of Robin Winter-Smith
  8. Daddy Said
  9. Once in a Very Blue Moon
  10. If I Were the Woman You Wanted
  11. Year Down in New Orleans
  12. Spin on a Red Brick Floor

 

Disc 4: The Last of the True Believers

  1. The Last of the True Believers
  2. Love at the Five & Dime
  3. St. Olav’s Gate
  4. More than a Whisper
  5. Banks of the Pontchartrain
  6. Lookin’ for the Time (Working Girl)
  7. Goin’ Gone
  8. One of These Days
  9. Love’s Found a Shoulder
  10. Fly by Night
  11. The Wing & the Wheel

 

More Than a Whisper: Celebrating The Music Of Nanci Griffith Tracklist (Vinyl)

 

Side A

  1. You Can’t Go Home Again (Sarah Jarosz)
  2. Love at the Five & Dime (John Prine, Kelsey Waldon)
  3. Listen to the Radio (Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle)
  4. Love Wore a Halo (Back Before the War) (Emmylou Harris)
  5. Trouble in the Fields (Lyle Lovett, Kathy Mattea)        
  6. Gulf Coast Highway (Brandy Clark)    

 

Side B

  1. Outbound Plane  (Shawn Colvin)    
  2. It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go (Steve Earle)
  3. Late Night Grande Hotel (Aaron Lee Tasjan)
  4. Ford Econoline (Todd Snider)
  5. Banks of the Pontchartrain (Iris DeMent)
  6. More Than a Whisper (Mary Gauthier)

 

More Than a Whisper: Celebrating The Music of Nanci Griffith Tracklist (CD/Digital)

  1. You Can’t Go Home Again (Sarah Jarosz)
  2. Love at the Five & Dime (John Prine, Kelsey Waldon)
  3. Listen to the Radio (Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle)
  4. Love Wore a Halo (Back Before the War) (Emmylou Harris)
  5. Trouble in the Fields (Lyle Lovett, Kathy Mattea)        
  6. Gulf Coast Highway (Brandy Clark)     
  7. Outbound Plane  (Shawn Colvin)    
  8. Radio Fragile (Ida Mae)*               
  9. It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go (Steve Earle)
  10. Late Night Grande Hotel (Aaron Lee Tasjan)
  11. Ford Econoline (Todd Snider)
  12. Banks of the Pontchartrain (Iris DeMent)
  13. More Than a Whisper (Mary Gauthier)
  14. From a Distance (The War and Treaty)*

 

*CD/Digital exclusive

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