Review: Staci Griesbach: My Patsy Cline Songbook

Staci Griesbach: My Patsy Cline Songbook
Release Date: August 23, 2019

If the prime motivation behind creating a tribute album is to offer respect, emotion and personal creativity to the artist receiving the tribute—impassioned respect, emotion and creativity—then Staci Griesbach’s debut album My Patsy Cline Songbook, delivers on all fronts.

In the spirit of Cline’s hits of the early Sixties crossing over from the country charts to the adult contemporary charts, Griesbach and her players offer a jazz-flavored take on the country legend’s contributions to the Great American Songbook.

There are 15 well-known Patsy numbers here that transform Cline’s renowned Nashville Sound into warmly elegant jazz-blues melodies. As interpreted by Griesbach and her warm mezzo voice, the songs fall gracefully on the ear and capture the richness that set Patsy Cline’s voice apart. Griesbach’s versions of “Why Can’t He Be You,” “She’s Got You” and “Walking After Midnight” (which features a fine tenor solo by Bob Sheppard), in particular, stirringly tap the emotional content of the songs as realized by Patsy, while immediately making them her own.

The most adventurous are her bossa nova-inflected versions of “Sweet Dreams” and “I Fall to Pieces,” both arranged by Brazilian musician Celia Vaz. For the latter, Griesbach takes it a step further and sings the early verses in Portuguese (Vaz provided the translation), transforming herself and Tennessee’s Patsy Cline, for a few brief minutes, into a couple of girls from Ipanema.

The well-appointed package includes a message from Cline’s daughter Julie Fudge, who is delighted at Griesbach’s interpreting of her mom’s music, and extensive liner notes from Griesbach herself, who discusses the origins of the project, her collaborators and their contributions, Cline’s unending influence on country music and more. At one point, Griesbach writes of how she met Willie Nelson (writer of the great “Crazy”), whom she told about her Cline jazz tribute concept. When Nelson asked, “Can you sing like her?,” Griesbach immediately replied, “No one can.”

“Good answer,” Nelson grinned.

Buy Staci Griesbach: My Patsy Cline Songbook

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.