To twist Bob Dylan's line, Texas-bred singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith looks and speaks like a little girl but she writes, sings and performs just like a mature, thoughtful woman, as she proved Tuesday at the Roxy.
Griffith's songs make fine use of both her voice (at times reminiscent of Emmylou Harris) and her writerly sense of time and place, reflecting her love for such Southern authors as Larry McMurtry and Eudora Welty, while she charmed the enthusiastic crowd with between-song stories and reflections that would hold their own alongside those of Russell Baker.
As the title of her opening song put it, Griffith is a delightful chronicler of "The Lone Star State of Mind."
But for all her little girl looks and literary leanings, Griffith should not be written off as a country Suzanne Vega. This is a woman who grew up in honky-tonks, and Tuesday--with backing from her four-piece Blue Moon Orchestra--she offered a range of styles from gorgeous, wistful folk ("Little Love Affairs," the title song from her current album) to charged-up country-rock. What's more, all the songs pass the ultimate test of country music: They'd sound great coming from a radio in a pickup truck cruising down the Texas Panhandle.