Nanci Griffith
Whether performing her own poetically evocative material or the compositions of her influences, friends, and peers, Nanci Griffith possesses a powerful gift for inhabiting the songs she sings - for communicating unspoken intimacy and heartache through her tender voice and lilting, delicate phrasing. In a career that has now spanned nearly three decades, Griffith first emerged as a writer of startling depth and subtlety, crafting sparse uncluttered vignettes that revealed a wealth of emotion even the most humble of characters and settings. With her gifts as a songwriter lending invaluable insight, Griffith has also grown into a formidable interpreter of other people's songs, as demonstrated on such albums as the Grammy® Award-winning Other Voices, Other Rooms.

Available November 14, 2006 on Rounder Records, Ruby's Torch is an intriguing experiment that brings together both Griffith originals and a selection of material from some of her favorite writers, giving them a unified, intoxicating treatment which pairs Griffith's longtime band the Blue Moon Orchestra with rich strings and gently punctuating brass.

The title Ruby's Torch is a subtle nod of acknowledgement to the genre of torch songs - the haunting ballads of love, regret, and loss best heard in cabarets and saloons in the hours that bridge midnight and dawn. Griffith's own take on torch is as personal and unique as everything she has done. "Recording an entire record of torch songs has been a dream come true for me," she says "and something my listeners have been asking me to do for many years." As with her country-influenced efforts, she draws inspiration from the form while fearlessly, naturally imparting her own distinct sensibility. The result is a sound rich with the timeless echoes of her inspirations, yet entirely contemporary and entirely, uniquely Nanci Griffith.

Rather than populate Ruby's Torch with tried-and-true staples and standards, Griffith casts a wide net that encompasses a range of influences. The opening "When I Dream" has been heard in versions by Crystal Gayle and Willie Nelson, and represents country balladry at its most sophisticated and poignant. "Ruby's Arms," "Grapefruit Moon," and "Please Call Me, Baby" all come from the pen of Tom Waits, a songwriter with his own multifaceted slant on torch traditions. Jimmy Webb, who has become a widely celebrated figure for his masterful amalgam of pop, country, folk, and art-song forms, is heard via his touching "If These Walls Could Speak." It is a testament to Griffith's creative vision and interpretive grace that the one song with a genuine torch pedigree, "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," fits in seamlessly with the rest of the selections.