More than two decades after her first record, Nanci Griffith is still making beautiful, honest and relevant music. Her latest album, The Loving Kind, has nine original songs and a small handful of covers.
Using a blend of folk, country and a tiny bit of pop, she tells vivid stories about the lives, loves and losses of the characters she creates.
Two of the tunes draw directly from legal controversy. The title track, The Loving Kind, puts the story of Mildred and Richard Loving (who were jailed because of state laws against interracial marriage) and their landmark Supreme Court victory in Loving v. Virginia.
Not Innocent Enough is an anti-death penalty song about Philip Workman who was convicted and put to death by the State of Tennessee even though evidence had proven him innocent. The chorus at the end includes Elizabeth Cook and Todd Snider but John Prine’s spoken part is absolutely chilling.
Party Girl is a danceable song about a woman who’s coming to terms with leaving her old ways behind while the waltzy Pour Me a Drink is relaxed and almost meditative.
Though two songs have presidents for subjects, Cotton is a reminder that LBJ was “more than just the Vietnam War,” while Still Life is Nanci’s opinion of George W. Bush.
Up Against the Rain, another immediate standout, is a tribute to songwriter Townes Van Zandt but as Nanci says, it could “be for anyone’s hero.”
Nanci has several shows planned for this summer and fall with more to be announced.