Nanci Griffith is a darn conundrum. Twenty albums in, and right here she is touchdown sq. on the fence – like so usually earlier than – between mainstream country-pop and one thing really unique.
Nonetheless, it’s laborious to withstand her. It’s not simply the combination of elfin magnificence, Texas twang and perky supply – the girl is a charmer, with a genial line in storytelling that’s most completely captured, for this reviewer, on reside variations of her rites-of-passage ballad Love on the 5 and Dime.
She’s been one of many nice unsung patrons of historic expertise, too, bringing key figures from the previous like Buddy Holly’s Crickets and folkie Dave Van Ronk into the studio and out on the street along with her band, The Blue Moon Orchestra. And if there’s a suspicion that her success has been earned extra by the character conveyed in an edgy, wholly particular person voice than by her music, there are worse routes to stardom.
The strongest track right here, Hell No (I’m Not Alright), makes the purpose. Griffith hollers out the inarguable sentiment of its refrain with a relish that ought to entice future grumpy anthem-singers – and outflanks the sketchiness of the track within the course of. Pacing is one other of this brief album’s strengths. There’s selection in its unfolding, with a brisk shot of power two-thirds of the best way by means of from a assured studying of Griffith’s 20-year-old Simply One other Morning Right here.
Not every thing works, although. The Texan has all the time had a weak point for a sentimental ballad, and the set alternates tearjerkers from different writers with the extra private, confessional materials of the album’s six new songs.
Recorded in Griffith’s Nashville house, the manufacturing is busy with tambourine rattles, bongo faucets and pinging triangles. Downbeat phrases are buoyed up by mild pop textures, leaning closely for character on the delicate virtues of a voice that, whereas stuffed with expression, isn’t designed for pop. Nonetheless forward then, we should hope, is the document that may give that particular instrument an irresistible setting.