For her second album this year, Griffths-Moore opted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock by recording an album of songs she’d have liked to have sung had she performed there. As the title indicates, she decided to focus on two of her heroes, one penned by Baez and one by Phil Ochs that she made famous, eight by Dylan (several of which Joan covered), and, well, I’ll get to the last one later. Reworked in her own style, and featuring, among others, Kit Hawes on mandolin and Joseph O’Keefe on violin, she opens with one of the early Dylan classics, a nervy plucked guitar arrangement of ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ that, echoing Baez in the vocals, introduces fiddle as it gathers towards the end. A simple strummed ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door ‘follows, O’Keefe’s solo complementing the song’s resigned melancholia. Popularised by Baez, ‘Farewell Angelina’ waltzes lightly across the musical palette with Hawes providing mandolin and Griffiths-Moore giving it some whistling midway before launching into a sparse and haunting live recording of Baez’s own masterpiece, ‘Diamonds And Rust’.
It’s back to early Bob for the Baez arrangement of ‘Don’t Think Twice’, again with mandolin solo, and ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ with a simply strummed, slightly warbled, vocally soaring ‘Forever Young’ sandwiched in-between and then it’s into the longest track, a five-minute version of Och’s ‘There But For Fortune’ though I have to say it’s something of a plodder and lacks the emotional edge Baez invested.
Another live recording and again just an acoustic strum, ‘Make You Feel My Love’ redeems matters, but I can’t help feeling that the brisk pacing of ‘The Times They Are A Changing’ rather rushes through the lyrics, diluting their still potent resonance and lacking the original’s anger.
And so the final track and, since the album was recorded at Abbey Road, she chooses to end with ‘Let It Be’, another number covered by Baez, with Ali Petrie on piano, here dialling down the original and Joan’s emoting on the refrain but, like the Baez recording, with the tempo sped up as if she’s trying to get the track down before the studio time runs out.
Those reservations aside, however, this is a very listenable collection clearly recorded with affection but not slavish reverence for the sources. Woodstock would have liked it.
Artist’s website: www.saskiagm.com
‘There But For Fortune’ – official video:
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