Nanci Griffith and Darius Rucker make a very odd couple. She's the skinny, angel-voiced troubadour of Texas coffeehouses, while he's the brawny, gruff-voiced leader of Hootie and the Blowfish. Yet they both benefit from their duet on Griffith's 1997 album, Blue Roses from the Moon. She rarely gets to hear her songs delivered with such soul-flavored power, and he rarely gets to sing something as well written as Griffith's loving description of the Texas landscape, "Gulf Coast Highway." Not everything on Griffith's album is as well written as that 1988 song, and the first half of the album is dominated by new songs with unfocused lyrics and undernourished melodies. In the second half, however, the veteran singer-songwriter digs into the details of a relationship gone wrong and extracts tunes that dispel the misty wispiness of her worst work and provide the tough-minded clarity of her best. Songs such as "Not My Way Home" and "Is This All There Is" capture that awkward stage in a relationship when you're still fond of a person even as you realize the essential magic is gone. Best of all are the songs where Griffith throws off her sensitive introspection and attacks the music with the forcefulness of her new pal Rucker. She wrote the bouncy, tongue-in-cheek honky-tonk two-step, "Maybe Tomorrow," with her hero, Harlan Howard, and she gives an ex-lover a carefree kiss-off on the country-rocker, "Morning Train." On songs such as these, her energy is abetted by her producer, Don Gehman (John Mellencamp, R.E.M., Tracy Chapman) and by three of Buddy Holly's Crickets--guitarist Sonny Curtis, drummer Jerry Allison, and bassist Joe Mauldin--who play on half of the album's songs. --Geoffrey Himes
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Remember, the working title included "...with Crickets."
firstname.lastname@example.org | New York, NY | 08/18/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"We lost Buddy Holly way back when, but the Crickets are still around, fronted by...Nanci Griffith? Apparently. So this cd is a little different, lots of covers, and stuff arranged and produced beyond what we usually get with the Blue Moon Orchestra (read: less intimate, less nuanced, less of the old Nanci we know and love). Except, what's weird about that is that the Nanci/BMO tracks on this album are the weaker ones, and the only really listenable tracks are the big ol' rollicking cover tunes, like "Battlefield" and "I Fought the Law" and "Morning Train" -- all of which are a lot of fun.The reinvention of "Gulf Coast Highway" with Darius Rucker is okay, though the original with Mac McAnally off "Little Love Affairs" is the canonical version of this song -- not to mention the great cover version Emmylou Harris did! So, I'm not sure we needed a reinvention of GCH, but since it's here, it's fine, and Hootie-fronter Darius Rucker holds his own.Nanci's story-songs here, though, are what drags my review down. She likes to say "Not My Way Home" is her favorite song, and it IS probably the best of the originals on this cd (I love the vocalization, "my feet have TREAAAD upon that-a road yoooou're on..."), but that's not saying a terrific amount.So, it's worth listening to for "Battlefield" and "Morning Train," and REALLY worth listening to for "I Fought the Law," which is a song just BUILT for Nanci to have a good time with, and she does.And Sonny Curtis and the Crickets make an interesting addition to Nanci and the BMO, but when it comes down to it, I want my old Blue Moon Orchestra back."
Artists have to grow right?
Bluegrl | Riverview, FL, USA | 04/01/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"this is definetly way more rock than ive heard of her before. there are a few notable songs on this cd, but for the most part I just hit the skip button. still for die hard fans those few songs make the cd worth having"