Among the performers who fleetingly made singer-songwriters cool in the '80s, Nanci Griffith had deeper folk and country bona fides than her peers, not to mention a potent literary streak. All are in abundant display on her new Hearts In Mind. "I Love This Town," a prickly account of nosiness and decay, is a hysterical riposte to a glut of contemporary country tunes that romanticize small-town life, and "Back When Ted Loved Sylvia" recalls the orchestral melancholy of Phil Ochs' last work. The emotional "Big Blue Ball of War" and "Heart of Indochine" are the first topical songs in recent memory to register anything but platitudes. Having been at it since 1978, the one-time schoolteacher has returned with a diverse album that's arguably her best.