Album #570 – The Last of the True Believers

Album #570

I first discovered Nanci Griffith and her music about 11 years ago. I was flipping through the channels one night and stumbled upon an airing of her live concert, Winter Marquee, on CMT. It was back when they still played music videos and aired music programming. Winter Marquee was filmed and recorded in Knoxville, Tennessee and was taken from a concert Nanci did to raise funds for that city’s beautiful Tennessee Theatre. I was amazed that I had never heard of Nanci before that point. I loved her captive stage presence, her songwriting and most of all the way she was able to combine certain qualities and feelings of the past with the present to make her music timeless. From that point on, I never forgot her name and started following her career. The Last of the True Believers was her fourth studio album and one that fully captures her amazing quality as a singer-songwriter and also interpreter of other people’s songs. Griffith was able to transport me to different places and feelings in her songwriting: small town life that seems to have been left behind in today’s modern world, love, loss and how beautiful life can be. All the different styles of county are present here: acoustic ballads, rockabilly, waltz, cosmopolitan, bluegrass, folk. Griffith’s voice and songwriting style fits in well but, she is a great storyteller above all. Her songs have always had this amazing visual quality and I can always picture in my mind what she is writing about. It’s no wonder that songs off of this album have been covered by other artists including Kathy Mattea. Griffith would move between mainstream and alternative country over the course of her career, never really having a chart hit of her own. I’m not sure why but, it could be because she has never be willing to compromise her style or her influences. They are wide ranging. I can’t think of many other artists within country who can collaborate with the Chieftains, the Crickets and Hootie and the Blowfish and do that seamlessly. That is why I have such as profound respect for Ms. Griffith. She is great at bringing people together and if you don’t believe me, ask Lyle Lovett. We’re it not for Nanci’s support early on, along with giving him the opportunity to be one of her back-up singers, I don’t think he would have gone on to have the career he has had. You can look for him on the album’s cover and hear him backing her up vocally on many of this album’s songs. Griffith would go on to have her greatest success through her two albums of covers, Other Voices, Other Rooms and Other Voices 2. The albums showcase her wide variety of influences, feature many of her musical friends and above all prove what an impact this female singer-songwriter from Seguin, Texas has had and continues to have on music. I got to listen to Other Voices 2 on a recent trip to Winnipeg and was blown away by how much fun she seemed to be having and the amount of talent on one album. The music world aught to have more Nanci Griffiths. With all of her connections, we might be on our way.

Highlights include: Last of the True Believers, Love at the Five and Dime, St. Olav’s Gate, Banks of the Pontchartrain, Lookin’ for the Time (Workin’ Girl) and Goin’ Gone.

Overall, I give The Last of the True Believers, 5 out of 5.

Next: Talking With The Taxman About Poetry by Billy Bragg

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