finds her voice on her third studio album, Once in a Very Blue Moon
. This is the album where she established her musical identity -- she is at home in many genres (which perhaps explains why she never gets played on formatted radio stations), and seamlessly blends folk, bluegrass, and country with a group of stellar musicians, including guitarist Pat Alger
and a young banjo player named Béla Fleck
. While the music is well-textured with cello, mandolin, Dobro, and fiddle, it is Griffith
's lyrics that distinguish her from her peers. Although not a concept album, the main theme explored is travel. She sings about the joys and excitement of the road as well as the longing that comes with extended periods away from home. Nanci Griffith
is an excellent storyteller, with detailed, insightful lyrics that vividly portray the hopes and dreams of her characters ("Mary and Omie"). She sprinkles the album with songs of others, as she pays homage to folk veterans such as Bill Staines
("Roseville Fair") and sings a tune by newcomer Lyle Lovett
("If I Were the Woman You Wanted"). This album marks the emergence of a major talent.