September 2003

Grace Griffith - Sands of Time
Blix Street Records G2-10078
Released: 2003

by Roger Kanno

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Grace Griffith has dedicated Sands of Time to the memory of Eva Cassidy whose music she helped introduce to the principals at her record label, Blix Street Records. Two of Ms. Cassidy’s producers, Lenny Williams and Chris Biondo, joined Griffith and Marcy Marxer in producing this disc. Although Ms. Griffith’s previous recordings have featured a mix of traditional arrangements with Celtic influences, Sands of Time offers a selection of mostly contemporary songs, including a few selections taken from classic musicals.

It is immediately apparent from this album that Ms. Griffith is an exceptional vocalist. Not only is she technically adept, but she has the ability to infuse songs with emotion and energy and make them her own. The title track is a somewhat superficial exploration of reincarnation, but the touching vocals make it a heartfelt and memorable rendition with just a hint of Celtic style. The idyllic "Make Our Garden Grow" from the Bernstein musical Candide is another example of Ms. Griffith’s ability to inject her emotions into a song and raise it to another level. Throughout the album, her voice has a light and ethereal quality that is easy to listen to, which might cause casual listeners to overlook the exquisite sensitivity and subtlety of her vocals.

The fine sound quality of this CD helps to highlight Ms. Griffith’s wonderful voice, the album’s greatest asset. There is some occasional sibilance, but otherwise vocals have a full-bodied, expressive quality on all of the tracks. For the most part, the musical arrangements also have a rich sound, such as the guitars and cello on "Wings Of Horses." Simple arrangements with a solo instrument or only a few instruments can occasionally seem a bit thin, but the overall sound of this CD is quite natural and always enjoyable.

The comparisons to Eva Cassidy are inevitable, but Grace Griffith’s Sands of Time is an album that can stand on its own merits. Her voice is beautiful and captivating in a way that expresses sincere emotion while maintaining a purity of form that is rare. Sadly, Ms. Griffith’s recording career has been slowed since she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and while this adds a sense of poignancy to many of her songs, it’s her skill as an artist that makes this album special.