Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Hearts in Mind

There's no such thing as a bad Nanci Griffith album.

Some (personally I return to Late Night Grande Hotel, Flyer, Storms, Clock Without Hands, and Other Voices-Other Rooms regularly and they always make me happy all over again) are definitely better than others (Dustbowl Symphony or Blue Roses from the Moons? Not returned to very often...) but none of them are bad.

It doesn't appear that Nanci...with her pristine, lilting twang, her sure handed songwriting skills, and her ability to often (though admittedly not always) pick interesting songs from other songwriters to interpret (not to mention her ability to find and work with extremely skilled players, canny producers, and cool guest artists)...would know how to make a bad album.

Hearts in Mind
is therefore, of course, not a bad album. It does try the faith and patience of true believers (like yours truly) by opening with 6 straight somber, stripped down ballads (including "Beautiful", Griffith's charming valentine to her stepfather, Julie Gold's ponderous 9/11 elegy "Mountain of Sorrow", and the too-precious-by-half "Back When Ted Loved Sylvia", guitarist and production manager Le Ann Etheridge's ode to poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.)

But things pick up after that and are humming along nicely by the time the sprightly "I Love This Town", with harmony vocals by Jimmy Buffett, gets feet to tapping.

This collection is dedicated to "the memory of every soldier and ever civilian lost to the horrors of war" and several of the tracks...including "Big Blue Ball of War", "Heart of Indochine", and "Old Hanoi"...address that theme (to sometimes awkward...if still heartfelt...effect.)

It doesn't stand with her best work but Hearts in Mind isn't bad. But, of course, it wouldn't be...because (you were paying attention earlier, weren't you? :-) there's no such thing as a bad Nanci Griffith album.

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