Late Night Grande Hotel

by: Nanci Griffith

Featuring some of Nanci Griffith's best and most original material -- as well as a few equally brilliant cover songs -- Late Night Grande Hotel blurs the lines between the singer/songwriter's Texas-rooted folk and the Nashville urban cosmopolitan country scene. Griffith has once again expanded her arrangements to include the five-piece Blue Moon Orchestra and also a few well-placed guest spots from Phil Everly (vocals), Mo Foster (electric bass), Tanita Tikaram (vocals), and Rod Argent (string arrangements/producer). The album's darker pop-oriented material can arguably be attributed to Argent's involvement. Of the 11 tracks, all but three are Griffith originals. Among them are some of the album's best material. As she had done with her crossover hit "From a Distance," Griffith beautifully interprets another Julie Gold composition, "Heaven." The cover of Vince Bell's introspective masterpiece "Sun & Moon & Stars" is not only one of this album's finest tracks, but it is also among the highlights of all the material during her five-year tenure with MCA. The remarkable intimacy she brings to the piece recalls her days on Philo and songs such as "Love at the Five and Dime" and "There's a Light Beyond These Woods." The third cover is of Tom Waits' somber "San Diego Serenade." While Griffith's vocals don't contain the huskiness and tragedy of the author, they add an even more distressing facet to the lyrics -- perhaps coming from a deeper place within the artist. There are a few all-stars among Griffith's compositions as well. "One Blade Shy of a Sharp Edge" continues the overtly political messages that she often credits to the enormous influence that Lyndon B. Johnson and Pete Seeger have had on her life and work. "It's Just Another Morning Here" is full of the wit and innocuous charm that have continued to make Griffith such an endearing composer and performer. While not her best disc during the late '80s/early '90s, Late Night Grande Hotel is a solid effort with some of her most mature material to date. ~ Lindsay Planer

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.