Picks and Pans Review: Flyer

updated 09/12/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/12/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Nanci Griffith

It's Nanci Griffith's difficult fortune to have come of artistic age in an era when members of her true vocation—folksingers—are an endangered species. Griffith's record company, Elektra, is doing its best to disguise her essence, coating her new album with an icing of a la mode artists, including members of U2, Adam Duritz of Counting Crows and Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler. Griffith, however, doesn't need the help; if anything, the excess baggage merely threatens to keep Flyer earthbound. Away from the hit-parade spotlight, Griffith has become our leading creator of folk-based pop songs, James Taylor's spiritual heir. But at bottom, Flyer is a lonely album. Its leitmotivs are the longing for a mate, the fear of growing old alone. "Me, I'm getting older and I'm plain/As plain as can be," sings Griffith in "Goodnight to a Mother's Dream." The album closes on an upbeat note with "This Heart," the only requited-love song, but after so much pain, the tune's bounce seems forced. Still, Griffith has a gift—a knack for making listeners feel that somebody understands their cluttered lives and travails. (Elektra)

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