NINA RICCI – Fare Thee Well – A Joan Baez Tribute (own label)

Fare Thee WellLast year Saska Griffiths-Moore released Baez, Dylan and Me, a collection of Baez songs, either self-penned or written by Dylan, and now, having discovered her through the Forrest Gump soundtrack, Nashville-based Ricci (who shares her name with the iconic fashion house), makes her own contribution, Fare Thee Well, which, as she explains in the opening, is focused wholly on her self-titled 1960 debut album.

Following the original’s running order, it opens with the traditional number that became a Baez signature, ‘Silver Dagger’, Ricci revealing an appealing quivering vibrato evocative of the young Baez herself (and at times Melanie), played in the same nimble-fingered tempo rather than the more customary slower version.

Baez devotees will be well-aware of the sequencing, so I’m not going to run through each track, but suffice to say these are generally highly faithful renditions, although she does bring her own touches to the likes of ‘Fare Thee Well’, ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ (where the highly accomplished guitar work is much more forceful) and especially a marvellous reading of ‘All My Trials ‘which, longer than the original, invests a deeper emotional resonance.

I’d also direct you to ‘Donna Donna’ on which she underlines the song’s troubadour nature and especially the album’s more obscure songs such as her strummed dynamic take on ‘Rake And Rambling Boy’ and the narrative ballad ‘Mary Hamilton’ which she extends by almost a minute, likewise ‘Henry Martin’ which here has a much earthier feel rather like a shanty envisioned by Kurt Weill.

Following the Spanish-sung original final number, ‘El Preso Numero Nueve’, she has one of her own songs (on which the Melanie comparisons are strongest), the seven-minute plus fingerpicked two-song medley ‘Club 47/Fare Thee Well Joan’, the first remembering the Massachusetts venue where Baez played her first show to just eight people), her acclaimed set at the Newport Folk Festival and how she met Dylan in Greenwich Village and the second recalling how she discovered Baez as a teenager and got into folk music, referencing Joan’s 2019 farewell tour and including a personal spoken thank you.

Obviously, if you haven’t, you really should search out the Baez original, but Ricci’s album deserves a life of its own and I’d recommend you also track down her 2018 debut, the more country-styled Designs On Me which is firm evidence she doesn’t need to ride anyone’s coat tails to make an impression.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: www.ninariccimusic.com

‘Fare The Well’ – live:


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