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Nanci Griffith

HEARTS IN MIND • Nanci Griffith

The sweetness in the singing voice of Nanci Griffith is one of the jewels in the crown of folk music. The serious nature of many on the songs on Hearts in Mind nearly precludes that particular quality, though it does shine through on a couple of numbers, notably, "Last Train Home" and the closing duet with Keith Carradine, "Our Very Own" (the bonus track on the US release).

You hear it also in the opener she wrote with Elizabeth Cook, "A Simple Life," with her co-writer singing high harmony. Among Griffith's many gifts is her dowser-like ability to find great songs. This ability and this part of her nature created very successful projects like Other Voices, Other Rooms (1 and 2) and led her to become the publisher of the then unknown Julie Gold classic "From a Distance." After two years of musical silence following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, New Yorker Julie Gold was moved to write "Mountain of Sorrow" after Nanci asked her to play a fundraiser for a Landmine Free World. There's a beautiful version of that song on this record.

An old favorite song of mine is beautifully rendered here, "Lifted Up By Angels," written by Tom Kimmel and Jennifer Kimball. The track written by bassist and singer Lee Ann Etheridge is a real standout, "When Ted Loved Sylvia," portraying the story of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Lee Ann's husband, drummer/percussionist extraordinaire Pat McInerney, co-produced this landmark disc. After this, we're sure to see more production efforts from him. They've both played with Nanci for many years, as one can tell.

After a long career, Nanci Griffith is still making some of the finest records in the genre, and is a beloved figure in the UK, where she enjoys a huge following. Among her many fans and friends is Jimmy Buffet, who cameos on the popular live song by guitarist Clive Gregson, "I Love This Town." So beautiful to hear the rare tenor of Nanci's old friend Mac MacAnally on the lovely song by the late and much missed Ron Davies, "Rise to the Occasion." If you've ever been touched by the superb voice of the artist, consider this record a must have.
• Frank Goodman

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