Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, and Larry McMurtry have been as influential on Texas singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith as Woody Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt, and Johnny Cash. Straddling the line between country and folk, occasionally straying into pop, her best albums, including the early classics on Philo, tend to be plotted like novels, and her best songs, including the Kathy Mattea hit "Love at the Five and Dime," have the character development and vivid details of short stories. And she's a fine interpreter of others' songs. Her version of Julie Gold's "From a Distance" far outstripped Bette Midler's. On her last album, 2006's string-slathered Ruby's Torch, Griffith played the torch singer to the hilt. Now she arrives at the Guthrie a couple of months before her 19th album, The Loving Kind, hits the streets. The advance word is that the collection is dominated by originals, and many are political and factually based. One, "Not Innocent Enough," deals with the execution of a convicted murderer despite new evidence proving his innocence. The title track, already making its rounds on the internet, is about interracial couple Richard and Mildred Loving, whose 1960s marriage ran afoul of Virginia law, leading to a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. All ages.
Mon., April 27, 7:30 p.m., 2009