REVIEW: Patty Griffin’s “Patty Griffin” is Weathered and Beautiful


I first saw Patty Griffin at a release show for her still to this day stunning release Flaming Red.  While I loved the recorded effort, I was blown away by her ferociousness on stage and I became a life long fan.  I judge everything she does against Flaming Red regardless of how different the style or feel.  While this may not be fair, they are my rules, and they have served me well over the last twenty-one years.  I kinda sat and stared at her new album for a few weeks, almost scared to listen to it.  Maybe I didn’t want to dislike it or love it too much, not sure which really. Finally, I hit play and instantly kicked myself for not listening to Patty Griffin (PGM Recordings) sooner.

“Mama’s Worried” with its smoky, jazz inflected vocals immediately grabs you as a listener and refuses to let go. I can only imagine wandering through the cafes and back alleys of Paris as a song like this, drifts out into a courtyard overgrown by ancient ivy. It is a perfect, visceral moment that bore several repeated listens before I moved onto the other songs.  “The River” is weathered and restrained yet achingly beautiful.  Like its title, the song meanders slowly yet forcefully all the while pulling you along with it.

My favorite track is “Where I Come From” with its subtle, almost hidden away train track drum beat underlying the acoustic guitars.  The imagery of growing up somewhere you can’t wait to leave struck a chord and I was immediately sucked in.  Griffin’s voice is in fine form, warm and weathered, it duels with the excellent guitar work giving us as listeners one of the standout tracks of the year. “Hourglass” continues the winning streak – give me a little Django mixed with a little New Orleans, and I can die a happy man. Urgent and soulful, I absolutely love the sound and feel of this side of Griffin and hope she continues to explore it on future releases.

“Had A Good Reason” with only her voice and acoustic guitar is the emotional gut punch of the record with its tale of discarded love.  Some songs just catch you the right way and I found myself getting teary eyed after each listen. Not sure if it was the delivery, the phrasing or the forgiving nature of the song’s protagonist, perhaps it was the combination of all three that affected me in such an unexpected way. “Luminous Places” is another one of those absolutely perfect songs that seem to populate this record.  The piano playing along with the string and guitar work compliment her voice and you find yourself hanging on every word and every note, just waiting for the next moment.  Strikingly beautiful, it is a close second to “Where I Come From”.

Griffin established herself years ago as an artist to be reckoned with as she defied trends and chased her muse down the roads not taken.  Patty Griffin only serves to further cement that well deserved, hard won reputation. Amazingly fresh and inviting it plays across genres all the while inviting you along for the ride.  Twenty- three years since her first release, Patty Griffin continues to push her art forward, and we are all the better for having her around to listen to.

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