“I’m still gone and it’s all the same/ I’m taking notes and naming names…” snarls Nanci Griffith on the churlish, Pogues-evoking-the-Everlys “Hell No, I’m Not Alright” from Intersections, a more aggressive, full-frontal reckoning from the woman who was once the sugary-voiced sweetheart of Lone Star coffeehouses. If the little dresses and anklets were charming once upon a time, on Griffith’s 20th album, the fairytale is over. Instead, she’s recorded a loose song cycle reflecting the corrosive nature of relationships, the loneliness one feels when it’s evident doubts and questions outstrip desired resolutions.
Nanci Griffith recorded her marvelous new record, her twentieth, at her home studio in Nashville. She employed her long time friends Pete and Maura Kennedy and Pat McInerney as both her coproducers and band (the couple sing and play guitar, while McInerney handles the drumming). The intimate nature of this album result from the combination of these elements.
Songwriter Nanci Griffith's Intersection is the mirror image of her last album, 2009's The Loving Kind. Where that album dealt with issues of hope in struggle and the transformative power of love to overcome even the most monumental of obstacles, Intersection, by contrast, is a record about struggle (personal and political), loneliness, and losses. Recorded at her home studio in Nashville with co-producers Pete and Maura Kennedy and Pat McInerney, the 12 songs here were cut by this small group with a handful of sporadic guests filling out the roster.
Nanci Griffith: still hard to resist, still a conundrum. Ninian Dunnett 2012. Nanci Griffith is a darn conundrum. Twenty albums in, and here she is landing square on the fence – like so often before – between mainstream country-pop and something truly original..
After 20 albums you know what to expect from Nanci Griffith. There are deep, from-the-heart songs, a couple of sprite turns at folkabilly, and reasoned social commentary – stories of everyday people well-told and well-sung. Intersection is sure to please longtime fans, but it also strikes a more universal chord. "Hell No (I'm Not Alright)" in particular stands out for its anger, a mix of Buddy Holly and Pete Seeger.