Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Waxed - Record Review from Issue #67 Jan-Feb 2007

Nanci Griffith

Ruby's Torch (Rounder)

When Nanci Griffith devotes the bulk of an album to other people’s songs, the selections had better be superlative. In that regard, this countrypolitan-meets-cabaret set of torch songs scores high marks. The eleven tracks include three Tom Waits tunes, a Jimmy Webb number, and a Sinatra standard.

An impeccable vocalist, Griffith comes to this project sans many of the mannerisms affiliated with torch-singer icons such as Billie Holiday, Judy Garland and Marianne Faithfull. Her timbre is silvery smooth, not Marlboro-and-whiskey coarse; her pitch dead-on; her vibrato does not register a 5 or 6 on the Richter scale.

What’s left? Interpretation and phrasing. At the start, Griffith errs on the safe side. Her “When I Dream” sounds like the glacial reverie of a very talented suburban mom; trimming some of the orchestration might have helped). Her reading of Waits’ “Ruby’s Arms” wants for gravity; an odd detachment undercuts the extended narrative of leaving a lover for good.

But by the fourth or fifth number, Griffith loosens up. She finds startling dimension in the AM radio chestnut “Bluer Than Blue”. New renditions of her own “Brave Companion Of The Road” and “Late Night Grande Hotel” are especially stirring, as is the curious closer, “Drops From The Faucet”.

When Emmylou Harris covers a song, she owns it. On Ruby’s Torch, Griffith seems more interested in an extended lease agreement. Her thoughtful versions of these well-chosen songs won’t make you forget the originals entirely, but they won’t send you racing to revisit them any time soon either.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #67 Jan-Feb 2007

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • Dylan, "Desire" and the (other) Story of Hurricane: A Lesson In Fatherhood
    Reading of the death of former pro boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter today awoke an old memory which reminded me how lucky I was to have, what in retrospect, was a pretty cool father.  I should add by "cool" I do not mean some kind of "over the hill hipster" who, in a desperate attempt at trying to stay relevant smokes pot or acts […]
  • Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes – Black Coffee (Album Review)
    After a successful solo outing, Aussie country singer Lachlan Bryan got his old band back into the studio and came up with this cracker of an album. It was released in the autumn of last year in Australia and subsequently picked up a major award as “Alternative Country” album of the year. Such acclaim means any belated praise from me is superfluous, but I’m […]
  • Album Reviews: Gord Downie & The Sadies, Bruce Springsteen, Lost & Nameless, The Annie Ford Band
    Gord Downie, The Sadies, and the Conquering Sun The lead singer of one of Canada’s most influential rock bands gets together with one of the best live bands ever for a collaborative effort and the expected results could range anywhere from confusion to straight ahead awesomeness. Thankfully (and not surprisingly, given the players involved) the semi-eponymou […]
  • Blackberry Smoke Is the Goddamn Truth
    Southern rock is a stylistic hodgepodge--a musical mutt.  Yet in this gumbo pot of a country, its impurities and cross-breeding make it the most American genre of all. And with the Allman Brothers drawing down, southern rock's current standard bearer is Blackberry Smoke, a lofty perch they hardly jeopardized during a lively set last night at Seattle […]
  • Goldie and the Gingerbreads: The First All-Female Guitar Band
    It could only happen in America: In 1947, a 7-year-old Polish-Jewish girl named Genyusha "Genya" Zelkovicz arrived in New York City's Lower East Side with her parents and a sister, speaking not a word of English. They were the only ones in their family to survive the Holocaust. Genya's mother nicknamed her Goldie, and thus began her Ameri […]
  • Wayne Kramer - Lexington (Album Review)
    Wayne Kramer is someone who's life story I'd very much like to read. From lead guitar in the Mighty MC5 to prison inmate to social activist (he recently interviewed Pussy Riot, and is constantly active in speaking out against such injustices) to new father, Kramer's life has an interesting story in every chapter. His latest record release (and […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter