Review: Nanci Griffith, Working in Corners & Various Artists, More Than a Whisper – Celebrating the Music of Nanci Griffith

On the 45th anniversary of her debut album the artist gets the reissue and tribute treatment

Marking her 70th birthday – and the 45th anniversary of her debut LP, There's a Light Beyond These Woods – Nanci Griffith receives proper reissue of her first four albums, previously out of print, and a stellar tribute release. Griffith, who passed away in 2021, helped define Austin's singer-songwriter scene in the late Seventies behind her vivid, piercingly poetic lyrics and immaculate voice, and the four-LP box set Working in Corners resurfaces those early years building toward breakout fourth album, 1986's Grammy-nominated The Last of the True Believers. The accompanying booklet captures her journey through extensive interviews with contemporaries and images and artifacts from her start at Austin's Alamo Lounge and emmajoes to eventual Nashville emergence.

Together, the reissues showcase Griffith's clear evolution, from the stirring folk of her debut and Poet in My Window to the confidence and expanding sound of third platter Once in a Very Blue Moon. While the reissues box doesn't offer any surprises like demos, outtakes, or live recordings, simply having these first albums available again proves indispensable.

The separate tribute from Rounder follows Griffith's considerable influence, gathering legends like Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Iris DeMent, and Mary Gauthier, but also younger songwriting acolytes like Sarah Jarosz with a stunning "You Can't Go Home Again" and Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle teaming to jam "Listen to the Radio." Most remarkable among the 14 tracks are John Prine and Kelsey Waldon ("Love at the Five and Dime"), Lyle Lovett and Kathy Mattea ("Trouble in the Fields"), and Shawn Colvin flying "Outbound Plane" into the War and Treaty's soaring close with "From a Distance."

Nanci Griffith

Working in Corners (Craft)

Various Artists

More Than a Whisper: Celebrating the Music of Nanci Griffith (Rounder)

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Nanci Griffith
Phases & Stages
Nanci Griffith
Intersection (Record Review)

Jim Caligiuri, June 22, 2012

Phases & Stages
Kydd Jones, Odd Complex, Arson Optics, and Notes Floats

Chase Hoffberger, June 22, 2012

More by Doug Freeman
Me Nd Adam’s Keep Austin Cheer’d and More Crucial Concerts This Week
Me Nd Adam’s Keep Austin Cheer’d and More Crucial Concerts This Week
Get in the holiday spirit with Spaceflight Records or Spiritualized

Dec. 8, 2023

Deerhoof at Wizard Rodeo and More Crucial Concerts This Week
Deerhoof at Wizard Rodeo and More Crucial Concerts This Week
Austin acts El Combo Oscuro and sleep well. both host album release shows

Dec. 1, 2023


Nanci Griffith

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle