More Than A Whisper is an homage to singer, songwriter, and guitarist Nanci Griffith, who left an indelible mark before her passing in 2021. Performers include Billy Strings, Emmylou Harris, Sarah Jarosz, and Molly Tuttle.
As we celebrate what would have been Nanci Griffith's 70th birthday this year, More Than A Whisper: Celebrating The Music Of Nanci Griffith captures the essence of her storytelling expertise, distinctive vocals, and unique brand of Americana, which she dubbed "folkabilly."
Recorded over several years in studios across America, the album features a stellar lineup of artists who were inspired by Griffith's work. This tribute includes remarkable interpretations of her most beloved songs by artists such as Brandy Clark, Shawn Colvin, Iris Dement, Steve Earle, Mary Gauthier, Emmylou Harris, Sarah Jarosz, Lyle Lovett, and Kathy Mattea, Ida Mae, John Prine, Kelsey Waldon, Todd Snider, Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and the War And Treaty.
This collection brings together artists from various generations and musical backgrounds to honor Griffith's enduring legacy. Many of the songs featured on the album were reimagined and reinterpreted by Griffith throughout her career, while others became memorable hits for fellow musicians. What remains evident in these fresh renditions is the timeless appeal of Griffith's music, which continues to resonate with listeners, both old and new.
The album opens with a dreamy take on "You Can't Go Home Again," performed by Sarah Jarosz. Iris DeMent, a frequent collaborator with Griffith, delivers a heartfelt interpretation of “Banks Of The Pontchartrain." Another standout track, "Love At The Five & Dime," is beautifully covered by Kelsey Waldon and the legendary John Prine, who was also celebrated for his masterful storytelling, much like Griffith.
A touching duet features country music stalwarts Lyle Lovett and Kathy Mattea, who reimagine "Trouble In The Fields" from the 1987 album Lone Star State Of Mind. The album also includes Todd Snider's rendition of "Ford Econoline," originally featured on Little Love Affairs. The track "Outbound Plane," from the same record, co-written by Griffith and Tom Russell, is transformed into a reflective acoustic ballad by Shawn Colvin. Emmylou Harris pays tribute to her longtime friend with a cover of "Love Wore A Halo (Back Before The War)," also from the 1988 LP.
Griffith's 1989 album Storms marked a shift toward pop music, featuring singles like "It's A Hard Life Wherever You Go." Steve Earle's rendition of this track blends Celtic influences with American roots, making it resonate even more in today's context. "Listen To The Radio," from the same album, is covered here by young stars Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle. Additionally, Aaron Lee Tasjan delivers a moving performance of "Late Night Grande Hotel," the title track of Griffith's acclaimed 1991 album.
In her liner notes, Mary Gauthier, a singer, songwriter, and author, reflects on Griffith's groundbreaking influence, stating, "[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."
Perhaps most importantly, all proceeds from More Than A Whisper will benefit Nashville's Cumberland Heights, a non-profit treatment facility dedicated to offering hope and healing to individuals affected by drug and alcohol addiction. This tribute album not only celebrates Nanci Griffith's enduring legacy but also contributes to a meaningful cause, embodying the spirit of her music.