Album: Whistle Down the Wind
Release Date: March 2nd
As she began planning a farewell tour of Europe and the U.S. scheduled to start this year, the folk legend also began thinking about making one last record: "I had the feeling things are winding down and I wanted to do one more studio effort, and kind of the old-fashioned way," she told Rolling Stone. With producer Joe Henry at the helm – an ideal choice given his previous work with legends like Bonnie Raitt, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and Mose Allison – that approach centered around Baez's voice and guitar, with minimal, largely acoustic accompaniment and no famous-friends cameos. "We didn't want guest artists," says Henry. "Her manager said to me, 'That's not on her agenda,' and I was delighted to hear it. I wanted to focus on her." There's little that's old-fashioned about the material Baez chose, which includes songs by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan (the title track and "Last Leaf"), Josh Ritter, and Anohni (whose "Another World" Baez calls "so deep and dark and beautiful"). Aptly for these times, the album ends with an 18th-century manuscript, "I Wish the Wars Were All Over," set to new music. And how has Baez's dusky-soprano voice managed to hold up so well? "She uses an old country singer's trick," says Henry. "She eats potato chips before she sings. It lends a good kind of grease to your voice."