Patty Griffin

REVIEW: Patty Griffin “TAPE”


Patty Griffin returns with TAPE, a ten song compilation this Friday June 10th via Thirty Tigers.

There’s a handful of artists I’ve followed over the years, that I can tell you exactly where I was the very moment I first heard them. Patty Griffin was one of those. In 1996 I was running a corporate cd store in Houston and was driving in just a bit after midnight for an overnight shift to get a head start on some store projects and renovations. Driving in, I was tuned to KPFT listening to David Dye’s World Cafe. Dye was featuring an up and coming singer songwriter out of Maine named Patty Griffin. Her debut album, Living With Ghosts was in the spotlight and I’d heard nothing like it before. Once I got to work, I quickly found a physical copy, and proceeded to listen to it on repeat over the next several hours. Living With Ghosts was breathtaking, with its simplicity only amplifying its sincerity. To this day, it’s one of my favorite debut albums and I dare to say a quintessential release in Americana and modern folk music.

Counting that debut album, Griffin has recorded and released nine studio albums across various record labels over the years, a pair of live releases, as well as countless contributions to other’s releases and compilations. Griffin has continued to push her musical boundaries, always remaining fresh and vital and in doing so has firmly established herself a peer among her contemporaries. Personally, I was quite partial to Flaming Red as well as the initially unreleased Silver Bell album, but in full disclosure, I’ve always wondered why Griffin hadn’t returned to the simple formula that worked so well on her debut. Coming full circle, she’s done just that with her tenth studio release, Tape.

TAPE opens comfortably reminiscent of ..Ghosts, with the bluesy acoustic licks of “Get Lucky” a song that offers equal portions of everyday optimism, and despair. Indeed, that balance of hope and realization remains a common thread here, whether it’s a gambler’s lover’s lament in “One Day We Could,” or the country tinged self-reflection inspired by an abandoned rural “Little Yellow House” that continues to persevere despite the odds. Love and relationships occupy an equal footing whether it’s the vibrancy of a new relationship as in “Don’t Mind” (featuring Robert Plant, and a fuller band accompaniment), or the melancholy of one coming to an end such as in “Sundown” and “Night”. There’s even a fascinating drone-like piano instrumental titled “Octaves” that feels completely at home among the others.

One is immediately aware this is a special collection. Griffin swaps between acoustic guitar and piano on the majority of these tracks with some of the tracks featuring a bit more accompaniment, such as percussion and organ inciting a “fuller” sound, yet still retaining the intimacy of a demo recording. These ten songs are “working” recordings and much like Griffin’s debut, they’re full of echo, blemishes and ambient noises. If you’re expecting the exquisite polish and production of recent Griffin albums, you may be slightly taken aback, but just know these recordings are a rare glimpse behind the curtain at an artist of consequential importance creating. Creating her art, warts and all. It is indeed a special recording. TAPE is a beautiful, albeit short, album that surely deserves your attention. For more information on Patty Griffin and TAPE please visit her website here: and find the music here:

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