Nanci Griffith – Last Of The True Believers (1986): Review

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Produced by Jim Rooney and Nanci Griffith
Label – Philo

Griffith’s fourth long player would be the bait that led to the major label contract she well and truly deserved. Her previous long players had been critically praised, rarely heard folk/country with original songs, freshly delivered and a world away from many of her contemporaries whose music had stagnated in an antiquated bubble of stereotypical musical and lyrical reminiscences from a long gone era. Her studied compositions showed a growing story telling talent, and a rich concoction of fiddles, banjo’s and double bass give the necessary enhancements without ever compromising her emotive voice. The definite mix between country and folk works effectively in showcasing a rootsy, earthy appeal, capturing the observational tales of simple lives and loves, often with an air of dreamy nostalgia. Her voice changes emphasis from breathy whisper to confident swell effortlessly, with Lyle Lovett adding contrasting backing vocals.

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There’s much to admire, kicking off with the musically upbeat opener and title track which deftly defies the love lost lyrics. “Love At The Five And Dime”, which was covered by Kathy Mattea (as was “Goin’ Gone”) brings out the dreamy romantic in Griffith as she tells the tale of eternal lovers. They may just be the lovers that look back on their lives for the “Banks Of The Pontcharion”, revealing a narration that spans the generations. Other highlights include “Love’s Found A Shoulder” and the deeply enduring closer, “The Wing And The Wheel”. If there is a reservation, it’s the clean-cut, lightweight edge which mars the harsher realities of the prostitute’s life in “Lookin’ For The Time (Workin’ Girl)”.

“Last Of The True Believers” is an album to rekindle a spark of enthusiasm for American country and folk in an era when most of the genre had become boring, insipid and uninspired

7/10

Track Listing
1 “Last of the True Believers” –
2 “Love at the Five and Dime –
3 “St. Olav’s Gate” –
4 “More Than a Whisper” –
5 “Banks of the Pontchartrain” –
6 “Lookin’ for the Time (Workin’ Girl)”-
7 “Goin’ Gone” –
8 “One of These Days” –
9 “Love’s Found a Shoulder” –
10 “Fly by Night” –
11 “The Wing and the Wheel” –

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