There are times when even the best songwriters find themselves up against the wall. Just ask singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith.
"Sometimes you stick your hand out the window and grab a song as it passes you by," said Griffith just before she and her band, the Blue Moon Orchestra, played "Not My Way Home.""That song took four years to write instead of the usual 20 to 30 minutes," she explained to the audience at the Snowbird Event Center Tuesday night.
And by the sound of the cheers, it seemed the audience was glad Griffith took that extra time to write the tune.
Since 1989, Griffith has managed to keep her troubadour image alive and well.
Part of that gift has to do with how Griffith writes. Her songs are so visual that the audience can actually see the noble human struggles as she sang lyrics to such songs as "Gulf Coast Highway" and "Everything Is Coming Up Roses."
Griffith's stage persona is very personable. She's accessible and never builds a wall between herself, the band and the audience. In fact, as she wove yarns about the different songs she was going to sing, she allowed the standing-room-only audience a glimpse into her poignant world.
But at the same time, as Griffith and the band played the songs, the audience was also fed heaping spoonfuls of optimism and enlightenment.
Songs such as the anti-abuse anthem "Ford Econoline," which is set in Salt Lake City, "In These Troubled Fields" and an insightful 1877 folk song, "Are You Tired of Me My Darling," all contain a thin line of hope.
The sound mix for the evening was tight and, much like the weather, crisp - in a good way, of course.
Griffith's vocal twang highlighted her style of "folkabilly" music throughout the evening.
She also played a handful of cover tunes that were heartily received by the mixed audience.
Pete Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer," Johnny Cash's "Will I Still Miss Someone" and Bob Dylan's epic "Boots of Spanish Leather" were just a few of the remakes Griffith and the band played.
Those songs were mixed with other Griffith staples like "It's A Hard Life (Wherever You Go)" and `This Heart."
Topping the evening off was a retake on a John Denver tune, "Ballad of Darcy Farrow," in which Griffith sang a cappella.
The song set list was well thought over. Although there would be some songs that could have been added, if the time permitted, there wasn't a song that could have been left off. For the most part the music and storytelling was flawless.
In fact, the only major mistake of the evening occurred when Griffith said she thought Mormonism began in England.
The petite singer showed that she could still charm an audience with her grounded, deep-rooted sincerity and true emotion Tuesday, and it was exactly what the audience ordered.