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Nanci Griffith – Intersection

Jo Cox


Nanci Griffith once sang that “no one ever knows the heart of anyone else”. Nevertheless, 20 albums in and we seem to be getting close. Intersection is deeply personal, finding this much celebrated singer-songwriter once again on top form, although fans shouldn’t expect the quiet contemplation of old. Griffith describes herself as being at a musical crossroads and the result is somewhat more explosive.

There are times when she tackles personal issues head on, such as in Bad Seed, an angry reflection on her relationship with a dismissive father. What stands out the most, however, is not what she has chosen to write but what she has chosen to interpret. Griffith has always had a deft ability to select striking material to record, but with Intersection her covers seem to tell a story all of their own. From the defiance of Mark Seliger’s Never Going Back to an album closing high covering her idol, Loretta Lynn, for the first time with High On A Mountain Top, pieces of a personal story keep falling into place.

That’s not to say Intersection is completely autobiographical though and Griffith has always had a knack for relating herself to the people, places and unfolding situations around her. Album opener Bethlehem Steel, about the closing of a steel mill in the historic Pennsylvania town where Robert De Niro filmed The Deer Hunter, poignantly references  the end of an era in American history which is universally relevant in a time of change and financial instability.

Similarly as she sings “I’m not okay, and neither are you and neither are we,” in Hell No (I’m Not Alright), she hints to the kind of solidarity and understanding which has always made her music so captivating and relevant. Whether she’s singing her own songs or someone elses, there are two things you will know for certain. Firstly, that they will be expertly executed, and secondly that everything is put there for a reason.