There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Sequels, no matter how inevitable they may seem to their creators, are never as rewarding as their antecedents. With Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back to Bountiful), Nanci Griffith’s follow-up to 1993’s incandescent Other Voices, Other Rooms, a collection of covers honoring her favorite songwriters, the folk-minded maiden manages to avoid an outright disgrace, yet, no surprise here, falls way short of matching the first album’s magic. It’s not from a lack of effort on Griffith’s part: The twangy soprano called in favors from more than 75 of her multitalented roots-rock pals, from Richard Thompson and Emmylou Harris to Lyle Lovett and Darius Rucker, and put them to work on 19 tracks, most culled from traditional folk songbooks. But whereas Griffith was the chief vocalist on Other Voices, Other Rooms, a much more polished and romantic offering, here she does too much harmonizing behind guest singers whose passion and vision don’t equal her own. Most of Other Voices, Too sounds like a sloppy, after-hours acoustic jam, and one fueled by a dangerous amount of depressants, although there are some worthy highlights: Griffith acts as the pining gal back home as cowboys Jerry Jeff Walker, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore lament the perils of Guy Clark’s “Desperadoes Waiting for a Train.” Griffith and Iain Matthews flirt and wonder during a playful take on Thompson’s “Wall of Death,” while Lucinda Williams lends a heartbreak lead on Bob Ferguson’s achingly touching “Wings of a Dove.” Maybe Other Voices, Too would have been more rewarding had it preceded the go-buy-it-now Other Voices, Other Rooms. Then again, maybe not.—Sean Daly