There's a Light Beyond These Woods

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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 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 ...
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NEW- FACTORY SEALED LONGBOX. Longbox has been crunched in areas, but CD is in excellent, new condition . FREE UPGRADE TO FIRST CLASS SHIPPING IN US. IN STOCK-ready for ... immediate shipment. All CDs GUARANTEED to play like new. Read more Show Less

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
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
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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/25/1990
  • Label: Philo / Umgd
  • UPC: 011671109725
  • Catalog Number: 711097

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Nanci Griffith Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar, Vocals
Eric Taylor Acoustic Guitar, Guitar, Vocals
Paul Kelly Electric Bass
The Cain Sisters Vocals
Richard Cooper Electric Piano
Stephen Doster Acoustic Guitar, 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 III 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
Denny Purcell Mastering
Mike Williams Producer
Eric Conn Digital Editing
Frank Golden Cover Photo
Mary Margaret Composer
Bruce Carlson Composer
Maggie Graham Composer
Bill Blatchly Engineer
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