I owe Nanci Griffith a debt of gratitude. First, she was my sister in arms for years of I-Am-Too-Strong-To-Be-This-Lovelorn. Second, she was my introduction to future songwriting heroes such as Townes Van Zandt, Emmylou Harris and Guy Clark. For these reasons, I will forever cut her slack in the sappy department, overlooking an abundance of hearts, moons and flowers, in exchange for her homage to the greatest songwriters of our time, and the richness of feeling in her own material that stirs my soul.
Blue Roses From The Moon is no great departure or revelation for Griffith. Like her last album, Flyer, the songs seem obviously personal; in fact, a theme of love lost/impending hope runs throughout. She oozes sincerity and gets away with it. Musically, the songs run the gamut, from radio-friendly cuts (read: strings, synthesizers, and big production) like Every_things Comin Up Roses and Is This All There Is, to the touching, quiet Saint Theresa Of Avila, written by Griffith, her sister, and her childhood pal (Mary Margaret, acknowledged many years ago in Griffiths equally tender Theres A Light Beyond These Woods (Mary Margaret)).
In addition to her Blue Moon Orchestra, Griffith is joined on this album by members of the Crickets. Sonny Curtis joins her for a rave-up version of his classic I Fought The Law. Nick Lowes Battlefield (from his recent album The Impossible Bird ), Suzy Elkins and R.S. Fields Morning Train and Guy Clarks She Aint Goin Nowhere each build on the leitmotif of the album, as does Maybe Tomorrow, a honky-tonk song Griffith cowrote with the legendary Harlan Howard. Oh yes, and lest we forget, a duet with Darius Rucker on Gulf Coast Highway (originally on her Little Love Affairs album), whereby Ruckers understated yet soulful vocals make me reconsider for a moment my distaste for Hootie.
Blue Roses From The Moon is dedicated to the memories of a number of folks who influenced Nanci Griffith, including Townes Van Zandt. I vividly remember a show ten years ago in Seattle that moved me to tears. A shy friend of mine was so smitten by her music, he actually baked her a cake. Nanci, like Townes, communicates to us the universality of emotions and of life. For this I am grateful.