Review : Nanci Griffith - The Loving Kind
RollingstoneIn Virginia, 1958/They found love amongst the hate," sings folk-country stalwart Nanci Griffith on the title track to her 19th album. There is undoubtedly a fine song to be written about Richard and Mildred Loving, the couple whose landmark Supreme Court case ended the ban on interracial marriage. Griffith's plodding ode is not that song. Elsewhere, she warns, "Maybe you can't see/But it's clear to me/Money changes everything." Good intentions abound, but lines like these could turn a person off progressive politics....full text
AudaudCountry/folk singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith has been a paradox most of her career. The Texan's little-girl soprano voice has suggested naivete or innocence, yet she has a literate and sophisticated expertise, with lyrics that can be pointedly on-target, whether she is singing about romance at the local five and dime store or is passionately pleading for peace and understanding. Over the decades, Griffith's voice has deepened somewhat, and she has tried her hand at torch songs and Irish folk. But on her 19th release, The Loving Kind, Griffith returns to her forte, writing and performing Americana material that covers the gamut from optimism to equality, and from quiet determination to mannered indignation.
The Loving Kind is a treat for long-term fans, because the album is the first since 2005 that blends Griffith's signature sound with original material and contemporary covers, tapping into her country and folk roots, and using a stellar backing band which gives Griffith's text immediacy and authority.
The 13 pieces are a mix of sociopolitical concerns and personal stories, and are balanced between sober resolve and wryly-spun episodes. Griffith starts with the fiddle-flavored country title track, which finds Griffith revisiting the 1967 landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, which ended the US ban on interracial marriage. Griffith retells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and an African-American woman, who were forced to leave Virginia under threat of arrest because of the state's Jim Crow law that barred wedlock between different races. Griffith's tender voice is matched with Shad Cobb's high fiddle, Barry Walsh's melodic piano, and Fats Kaplin's underlying pedal steel guitar....full text
PopmatersNanci Griffith began her career as a folk/country singer, but that side of her has been missing for most of the past decade, as she explored everything from torch songs to light classical music. Now she’s returned back to her roots for her first album of mostly new material in almost five years. The results are a mixed bag. Griffith comes up with some terrific songs and puts them over with grace and style, but she sometimes tries too hard to be topical or deep. The sincerity can grate rather than please.
Griffith co-wrote nine of the 13 songs on the record, including the title cut. The details of “The Loving Kind” are so explicitly clear and evocative that it sounds like the kind of tune that creates itself. Richard and Mildred Loving were a white man and black woman who were jailed and forced to leave their home state of Virginia because of miscegenation laws that barred interracial marriage. In 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Virginia law and declared marriage “a basic civil right.” In these days where gay marriage is still a controversial topic, Griffith’s song seems especially relevant. The fact that the couple was actually named “Loving” adds a sweet connotation to the proceedings....full text
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