When you first hear G.F. Patrick’s songs on the new album One Town Over, you might assume that he is another musician who calls Nashville home. His melodies are pretty firmly planted in alt-country and Americana. You probably wouldn’t guess that he is from Philadelphia, a town more known for soul. It’s really a lesson that an artist’s origins don’t determine the path he or she takes when it comes to creating.
Something is immediately familiar about Patrick’s melodies and storytelling. You can hear something of Drag the River in the melancholy melodies. The storytelling has a forlorn quality and an attention to detail that is akin to B.J. Barham of American Aquarium.
While the songs are well-crafted and thoughtful, it is the lyrics that really grab the attention. In the opening track “Mud,” he sings the sad reality “Going off to work is just a way not to be home.” When you hear that, you wonder how many people share that sentiment. Another hard-hitting line is in “Refugee’s Plea (Jungle Prayer)” when he sings, “Let my children stay. There ain’t no home at home anyway.”
If you need this album in a nutshell, “Anger of Magdalene” is probably the song. The beat is uptempo and pure rock and roll while the melody is pretty standard alt-country with distorted guitar and some mandolin in the background. The vocals bring JP Harris to mind. However there is a real contradiction in this song. The lyrics sound anthemic, especially when he sings, “There ain’t no future being no one’s fool. Standing up straight, followin’ rules.” Those seem like the kind of lyrics someone might belt out on the way to work. But when you stop to listen to the story of the song, you realize the subject of the song is saying that because she is constantly harassed by people like her employer and a police officer. At some point, you realize that the subject is out for justice for the harassment she has suffered at the hands of various men.
That’s not the only song with some gravity to it. In fact, you can feel the gravity in the themes throughout this album. “Blood on the Bottle” tackles the topics of alcoholism and domestic abuse. “Like Father” talks about “demons unknown” and “battling the beast.” This is a good song for anyone who has ever suffered from demons that aren’t apparent to anyone else.
This album is a study in storytelling. Patrick can take a heavy story and put it to a melody that is easy to listen to, and that’s no small feat. Creating a catchy song with a heavy theme isn’t something that can be accomplished by just anyone, yet he makes it look easy. One Town Over (Need To Know Records) will be available everywhere on May 29. Order your copy here.
GF Patrick – Vocals, acoustic guitar
Billy Conway – Drums, percussion
Frank Swart – Bass
Mark Blasquez – Electric guitar, keyboards