# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Nancy Griffith - Intersection

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 27 / 2 / 2012

Nancy Griffith - Intersection
Label: Proper Records
Format: CD


Fine return to form on twentieth album from Texan-born country star, Nancy Griffith

My "little love affair" with Nanci Griffith’s music started when, way back in 1986, a review of her then current album, ‘The Last of the True Believers’, moved me enough to check the album out. Twenty-six years later I can still remember the thrill of hearing that album for the first time and then tracking down her earlier albums released on the Philo label. It was obvious from those first four albums that Nanci was a master storyteller who wrote with acute attention to detail drawing the listener into the lives and places of those she sung about. Nanci is also more than adept at covering the work of others while never failing to add her own touch and, almost without fail, taking the chosen song in another direction. While those initial albums released between 1978 and 1986 were often labeled as folk, Nanci, especially on the songs spread over her MCA years, injected more and more country touches into her albums and by 1988’s ‘Little Love Affairs’ had moved into a more poppier direction. While it’s debatable that she hardly put a foot wrong from 1978’s ‘There’s a Light Beyond These Woods’ to ‘Storms’ from 1989, Nanci’s albums since, solid though each and every one was, haven’t really stood up to those released in her first ten years as a recording artist. Nanci has always tried to keep her music fresh and has tried, with varying degrees of success, to revisit her own back catalogue a number of times to add a new take on her songs. Even on ‘Intersection’ we have a new version of ‘Just Another Morning Here’, which doesn’t quite match the beauty of the version on 1991’s ‘Late Night Grande Hotel’. Maybe we are just too familiar with the original and this new version, although blessed with a contemporary production, it sounds more like a track from the Kennedys' covers album, ‘Songs of the Open Road’. While that’s hardly surprising as both Pete and Maura Kennedy play and sing as well as co-produce ‘Intersection’, one wonders if this song should have been left on ‘Late Night Grande Hotel’ album as it was. It has to be said that the Kennedys have done a sterling job on ‘Intersection’ though, while Nanci has always had the assistance of producers and collaborators who bring out the best in her work, we can only hope that her alliance with Pete and Maura extends to more than this one album. While mentioning the Kennedys anyone who likes their folk/country with a little jangle should check out any of the duo’s numerous albums, but start with the aforementioned ‘Songs Of The Open Road’ for some stunning versions of Byrds, Dave Carter, Nick Lowe and Jimmy Webb songs to name just a few. The Kennedys' version of Nanci’s ‘Late Night Grande Hotel’ is worth the price of the album alone. In many ways ‘Intersection’ is the most satisfying album Nanci has released in years. While brilliant songs have been scattered throughout her most recent albums and her themed albums like ‘Ruby’s Torch’ (Nanci’s tribute to the torch song genre, covering songs from Tom Waits, Jimmy Webb and again reworking a clutch of her own songs) and her orchestral excursions have never been less than interesting, ‘Intersection’ is the most complete and rounded album Nanci has been involved in for many years. ‘Intersections’ is the first Nanci Griffith album since 1989’s ‘Storms’ where I’ve had to listen to the whole album all the way through again immediately after hearing it for the first time. While there are no lines that made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck like that album’s duet with Phil Everly, ‘You Made This Love a Teardrop’, (Listen to Nanci sing the line “When I think of all the years your love has taken from me, I can’t believe I’m leaving you” and watch grown men cry) the very first words Nanci sings on the opening song, ‘Bethlehem Steel’, draw you into this tale of the closure of an American mill, and how it affected the town and its inhabitants. It could have been pulled from any one of those early albums proving that Nanci has lost none of her songwriting talents, and that the captivating quality of her distinctive voice is still there all these years done the line. Nanci follows that song with ‘Never Going Back’ written by Mark Seliger, but in Nanci’s hands the song is recalling her feelings on leaving her native Texas years earlier. The feeling that Nanci has released one of her most personal albums to date is reinforced by the title song, “ I’ve had a hard life and I write it down” she sings reflectively over one of her trademark melodies that are instantly appealing. ‘Hell No (I’m Not Alright)’ is attracting a lot of attention; with its Buddy Holly touches and Nanci showing her anger in a more vocal way than before, it’s an unexpected and welcome departure from the songs that precede it. With a few inspired covers, Loretta Lynn’s ‘High on a Mountain Top’ ends the album on a high, Nanci showing off her country credentials to maximum effect but unfortunately her, admittedly touching, version of Blaze Foley’s ‘If I Could Only Fly’ comes too soon after last years definitive version by Gurf Morlix to really appreciate the beauty in Nanci’s take. Despite an excellent choice of covers, maybe the most affecting songs here actually come from Nanci’s own pen. The title song ranks as one of her best songs to date, and the up-tempo ‘Bad Seed’ is obviously directed at Nanci’s father and once again Nanci sounds more angry than we’ve heard her on previous albums; written about the friction between a parent and child it’s a song that many will identify with. ‘Intersection’ is a fine return to form from Nanci Griffith and with her twentieth album she has just made one of the best of her long and varied career.

Track Listing:-
1 Bethlehem Steel
2 Never Going Back
3 Intersection
4 Waiting On A Dark Eyed Girl
5 Hell No (I'm Not Alright)
6 Stranded In The High Ground
7 If I Could Only Fly
8 Just Another Morning Here
9 Bad Seed
10 Davey's Last Picture
11 Come On Up Mississippi
12 High On A Mountain Top

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