Texan Nanci Griffith is a superb, often literary, songwriter whose work in the '70s and '80s frequently mined similar dusty cow-town territory as Larry McMurtry's The Last Picture Show. Songs like "Love at the Five and Dime" were essentially short stories evoking a certain poignant ambience while hovering between folk and country. She's always been a fine interpreter of others' songs, too. Her version of Julie Gold's "From a Distance" is still the standard. Over the years, she's drifted from folk to country to pop, often confounding those trying to categorize her. Her last project, 2006's Ruby's Torch (Rounder), was something else again: Griffith playing the torch singer performing songs not usually considered torchable, including three by Tom Waits, Jimmy Webb, and her own "Late Night Grande Hotel." She really steps up as a singer, but every song drips with often shapeless full orchestrations.
Mon., March 24, 7:30 p.m., 2008