Twenty albums now, and none before like this. “It’s emotional for me, and it’s personal, and it makes my heart pound, thinking I’m going to be totally exposed here,” says Nanci Griffith, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Intersection is not an album of resolution or closure; it’s an album about difficulties, about anger, about things that slip away and things that explode.
“I’ve had a hard life, and I write it down,” Griffith sings on the title track, and that line serves as a statement of fact and purpose, and as a gentler way to explain her near-shouted musical exclamation, “Hell no, I’m not alright.”
Intersection is an examination of a particularly difficult time for Griffith, fraught with personal bust-ups, with family turmoil, with hard miles and tears and habits to break. “Sometimes making the best is doing the worst to yourself,” she sings here.
It’s funny what happens with songs. Funny that Griffith’s personal “hell no” moment – delivered here in a frenzy that somehow simultaneously recalls Buddy Holly, Pete Seeger, and The Ramones – can produce a gladdening shock of recognition in audience members who had bought tickets to hear contemplative Griffith gems like “Love at the Five and Dime” and “Trouble in the Fields”.
“Everybody seems to have an investment in ‘Hell No,’ and in ‘Intersection’ as well,” Griffith says. “So many people are at an intersection in their life, with the way the economy is, with foreclosures and downsizing… For me, Intersection is my musical crossroads.”
It is those crossroads, those intersections, that are at the center of Griffith’s latest work. Twenty albums now, and only one like this, but it’s funny what happens with songs. Sometimes making the best is doing the worst to yourself, but sometimes making the best is singing your truth, even if it makes your heart pound.