Natalie Merchant and Steve Earle are among the contemporary songwriters whose songs Joan Baez has recorded for her first album in six years. Due Sept. 9, “Dark Chords on a Big Guitar” also includes tracks written by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Ryan Adams and Greg Brown.
The 10-track collection finds the folk artist interpreting the title track of Merchant’s 2001 album “Motherland” (Elektra) and Adams’ “In My Time of Need,” from his 2000 debut, “Heartbreaker” (Bloodshot). Other songs covered are Welch and Rawlings’ “Elvis Presley Blues,” Earle’s “Christmas in Washington,” Brown’s “Rexroth’s Daughter,” Caitlin Cary’s “Rosemary Moore,” Joe Henry’s “Kings Highway” and Josh Ritter’s “Wings.”
The album was recorded in December at Shokan, N.Y.’s Allaire Studios with bassist Byron Isaacs (Mary Fahl), drummer George Javori (Katel Keineg, Erin McKeown) and guitarist/bassist Duke McVinnie (Dave Alvin, Exene Cervenka). Baez’s last studio release was the 1997 Capitol set “Gone From Danger.”
Mark Spector, who has been the reissue producer of Vanguard’s Joan Baez Original Master Series, produced “Dark Chords on a Big Guitar.” As previously reported, Vanguard has been re-releaseing all of Baez’s album for the label in chronological order. Each title has been re-packaged in a deluxe slipcase featuring new artwork, along with an exact replica of the original artwork and liner notes.
On Aug. 26, Universal Music Enterprises will release “Joan Baez – The Complete A&M Recordings (1972-1976).” The four-disc box set will collect the six albums Baez recorded for A&M — 1972’s “Come From the Shadows,” 1973’s “Where Are You Now, My Son?,” 1974’s “Gracias a La Vida,” 1975’s landmark “Diamonds and Rust” and the 1976 live album “From Every Stage.” Also included will be a collection of previously unavailable tracks.
Baez will hit the road in the U.S. this fall, kicking off a tour Oct. 3 in Charlotte, N.C. Prior to that run, she is scheduled to appear Aug. 9 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the next night in Leicester, England, as part of the Concerts for a Landmine Free World. The shows will also feature Emmylou Harris, the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, Billy Bragg and Earle.