Fayssoux thinks she sings songs, but she sings invitations.
Invitations to a kind and lovely south that I’ve not found when her voice is out of earshot. Invitations to transformational emotions, to empathy and caring, to good humor and helpfulness. Invitations to feel something, to hear stories and smile together. Invitations to grace.
Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Linda Ronstadt, Tom T. Hall and many others have accepted her invitations. Harris, who calls Fayssoux’s “one of my favorite voices,” featured Fayssoux on classic albums including Pieces of the Sky, Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town and Blue Kentucky Girl.
That’s Fayssoux, duetting with Harris on 1978’s “Green Rolling Hills” and harmonizing on 2005’s Grammy-winning “The Connection.” Crowell adores her, and likens her voice to “charm, elegance, whippoorwills and Magnolia dewdrops.” Ronstadt writes glowingly about Fayssoux in her Simple Dreams memoir. Hall contributed vocals to Fayssoux’s version of his and wife Dixie Hall’s “I Made a Friend of a Flower Today,” which originally appeared on the Grammy-nominated Red Beet Records album, I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow.
In the early 1980s, Fayssoux stopped singing her invitations, closeting that marvelous instrument for more than a decade. But in 2008, she made her recorded debut as a solo artist on Red Beet with the exquisite Early. Now she’s back with I Can’t Wait, a gorgeous set of songs, five of which Fayssoux wrote and all of which are elevated by her singular, dusk-shaded invitation of a voice.
To produce this album, Thomm Jutz and I first had to ask Fayssoux when she and guitarist Brandon Turner could come to the studio. Then, we had to call a handful of the finest acoustic musicians in the world and tell them when to show up at the studio. Finally, we had to stick up a few microphones and ask Fayssoux to sing into one of them.
Rough stuff, for sure. Yet we persevered. Took one for the team. And now you can hear Brandon Turner’s blues-inflected guitar, and Sierra Hull’s delicate mandolin, and Justin Moses’ remarkable fiddle, banjo and dobro.
You can hear Mark Fain on bass. You can hear Pat McInerney, whose percussion mastery is such that he actually makes drums sound like musical instruments. You can hear Thomm (the extra “h” and “m” are likely there because he grew up in Germany, unaware that one-syllable names should be easy to spell) Jutz’s evocative guitar, and harmony vocals from Donna Ulisse, Brandon, Thomm and, most importantly, me.
You can hear Fayssoux’s gentle invitations. You can hear her devastating (the good kind of devastating) treatment of Merle Haggard’s “Mama’s Hungry Eyes,” and her priceless (well, actually it’s 99 cents on iTunes) elevation of Jim Lauderdale’s “Some Things Are Too Good To Last.”
Accept her invitations. You can’t wait.
-Peter Cooper, producer
Jason Mater Robinson
Photographer Jim McGuire