Nanci Griffith

Nanci Griffith

The Best of/The Millennium Collection

MCA/Universal

The title is a little misleading; only five out of Griffith’s 13 albums from 1987-1991 are cherry picked on this compilation, and of those, Lone Star State of Mind is responsible for four out of the 11 selections. Still, this is a good, if brief, sampling of the Texas folk/country singer’s charms, and at a bargain price, an excellent place to start if you’ve never heard Nanci Griffith before.

With her high, trilling voice and effective mix of folk, country, and sometimes cloying pop (her version of “From A Distance” was recorded before Better Midler turned it into a sappy hit), Griffith is an acquired taste that you’ll either love or prefer not to hear again, depending on your affinity for her style of music. Imagine Stevie Nicks singing early Joni Mitchell songs and you’re close to the effect. The most indicative track on this collection is her seven minute live version of “Love at the Five and Dime,” where the singer’s storytelling skills are put to excellent use, as she leads into the tune with a four minute monologue that is graceful, comfy and spellbinding.

Griffith’s low-key, restrained approach can get a bit too delicate over the long haul, when you start wishing for upbeat tracks like the rhythmic lap-steel propelled “Lone Star State of Mind” to break the somber lost-love mood more often. But for those who gravitate to the sober sound of Iris Dement, Griffith’s your gal, and this is an adequate sampler to introduce you to her substantial yet limited talents.

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