Recorded in her Nashville home, "Intersection" is Nanci Griffith's 20th studio album in almost 34 years. She is accompanied by her long time percussionist and drummer, Pat McInerney and The Kennedeys (Pete and Maura).
Nanci is known as a deeply confessional singer/songwriter and "Intersection" is another chapter in the art of baring her soul. In the title track she sings "I've had a hard life and I write it down". It is an intense but beautiful song with Pete Kennedy's delicately phrased organ reflecting her poignant reading of the lyrics.
Continuing to bare her soul "Bad Seed" is a reflection of her father's rejection of her: "Now that I've gone crazy/With no love of my father/Am I the bad seed he always said I would be?" but delivered with a surprising uptempo arrangement.
"Hell No, I'm Not Alright" captures the anger that she feels about the world: "Hell No, I'm not alright/And neither are you/And neither are we". But the surprising thing about this track is that she evokes the sound of another era, The Crickets. You would swear that you can hear the guitar of Sonny Curtis and the drums of Jerry Allison as she launches into a furious tirade.
Six of the songs on the album are covers so it's not entirely autobiographical but they do sit well with Nancy's own songs in reflecting the mood of the album. The enchanting "If I Could Fly" by the late Blaze Foley proclaims:
"I almost felt you touching me just now
I wish I knew which way to turn and go
I feel so good and then I feel so bad
I wonder what I ought to do"
and Nanci's crystalline voice and a haunting accompaniment of subdued organ, guitar and light percussion evoke an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and despair.
"Bethlehem Steel" deals with the closure of the iconic steelworks, as further evidence of America's decline and "Davey's Last Picture" is a sentimental tribute to a fireman who died in New York, 9/11.
But despite the sombre tone of the album it does close on a literal high with Nanci's spirited reading of Loretta Lynn's "High On A Mountain Top" : "High On A Mountain Top/We live, we love and we laugh a lot". Perhaps Nanci is glimpsing a better future.
Ultimately this is Nanci Griffiths at the top of her game with a passionate voice delivering a strong bunch of songs both musically and lyrically. Underpinning this is the multi talented Pete Kennedy playing an array of instruments including electric, acoustic, 12 string and slide guitar plus organ, ukelele and mandolin.
The parts fit seamlessly to create a whole that is a perfectly executed reflection upon the trials and tribulations of an imperfect world but with the promise of better things to come.