There's a Light Beyond These Woods

There's a Light Beyond These Woods

by Nanci Griffith
     
 

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Recorded live to two-track in 1977-78 for original release on the now-defunct BJDeal Records and digitally remastered for re-release by Philo/Rounder (along with Griffith’s second and third albums), this personal, evocative debut, coproduced by Mike Williams, introduced the “Queen of Folkabilly” to a cult audience. Spare acoustic-guitar accompaniment, touched with…  See more details below

Overview

Recorded live to two-track in 1977-78 for original release on the now-defunct BJDeal Records and digitally remastered for re-release by Philo/Rounder (along with Griffith’s second and third albums), this personal, evocative debut, coproduced by Mike Williams, introduced the “Queen of Folkabilly” to a cult audience. Spare acoustic-guitar accompaniment, touched with banjo, Dobro, mandolin, cello, electric bass, and electric piano, let Griffith’s clear-eyed, clear-voiced little-girl-grown-up Texas-twang soprano shine on straightforward short-story narratives of common-folk broken dreams and hard luck. Upbeat, moving anthems -- the opening Old-West-rolling-rails-ode mourning the lost “golden lights of America” (“I Remember Joe”); the old-timey, rocking-horse-swing Carter Family nod that “as the time goes, only memories grow” (“Song for Remembered Heroes”); the toe-tapping, honky-tonk portrait of an pickup-driving former rodeo bull rider (“Montana Backroads”) -- mix with plaintive, lushly beautiful elegy-ballads to lost loves (the pretty-Southern-man-sweet-talkin’-baby of “Alabama Soft-Spoken Blues”), lost souls (the smiling-rhyming-man-with-no one-to-share-his-sorrow of “Michael’s Song”), and lost lives (the bridge-burning-El-Paso-alley-drunk who once was both the “wealthy man’s dream” and “working man’s dime” in “John Phillips Griffith”), with the occasional cleansing ray beaming through (the sun-kissed wash-away-tears-and-angry-times of “West Texas Sun”). The poignant, full-voiced autobiographical title track about Griffith’s lifelong best friend and dead high-school sweetheart became one of her signature songs.-----Janie Matthews

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
Returning to Nanci Griffith's first album, cut in 1978-1979, provides an interesting backdrop to view her work in the latter part of the '90s. Clearly, the singer/songwriter fans love hasn't arrived yet, but one catches glimpses of future greatness on songs like "I Remember Joe" and "Song for Remembered Heroes." Call Griffith a songwriter-in-training on There's a Light Beyond These Woods, learning how to shape a melody, pitch her voice, and surround herself with the right musicians. Even on weaker pieces, like the title cut and "Michael's Song," Griffith attempts to write a strong melody, giving each piece a distinctive flavor. She doesn't take a lot of chances vocally though, and many of the songs could've used a more robust approach. Still, her voice is already singular, and she delivers lots of emotion on pieces like "John Philip Griffith." Most of the accompaniment is simple, as in the guitar and cello that underline her voice in "West Texas Sun." Lyrically, songs like "Montana Backroads" rely on uncomplicated imagery -- pickup trucks, feed stores, and bars -- to paint a lonely portrait of a washed-up rodeo rider. This integrated, low-key approach contrasts sharply with Griffith's later albums, like 2001's Clock Without Hands. While she exudes much more confidence on the latter effort, she forgets many of the basics of songcraft, overreaching lyrically and adding an overly bright production. In retrospect, There's a Light Beyond These Woods sounds better because it sticks closer its folk roots. Fans only familiar with Griffith's later work will enjoy watching a young poet find her muse.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/08/2002
Label:
Philo / Umgd
UPC:
0011671123424
catalogNumber:
711234

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nanci Griffith   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Eric Taylor   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Paul Kelly   Electric Bass
Cain Sisters   Vocals
Richard Cooper   Electric Piano
Stephen Doster   Acoustic Guitar
John Hagen   Cello
Tom Pittman   Banjo
Hugh Sparks   Electric Bass,Vocals,Background Vocals
Richard West   Dobro,Guitar,Mandolin
Mike Williams   Chimes,Vocals,Background Vocals,12-string Guitar,Wind Chimes
Frank Delvy   Vocals,Background Vocals
Tom Ellis   Mandolin
Paul "PK" Kelly   Bass,Electric Bass
Rick West   Acoustic Guitar,Dobro,Mandolin

Technical Credits

Nanci Griffith   Producer
Pat Alger   Cover Design
Marlin Griffith   Cover Design
Mike Williams   Producer
Frank Golden   Cover Photo
Mary Margaret   Composer
Bruce Carlson   Composer
Maggie Graham   Composer
Bill Blatchly   Engineer

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