To pigeonhole Patty Griffin’s fifth released studio album as a folk or country album...
Helen Groom 2007
To pigeonhole Patty Griffin’s fifth released studio album as a folk or country album would be doing the range of musical styles on it an injustice. Bouncing from blues, gospel, country rockabilly, acoustic, gospel and, yes, folk, Griffin’s voice stands out through it all.
The twice Grammy nominated artist’s fans include Emmylou Harris (who duets here on the haunting ''Trapeze''), Bette Midler, the Dixie Chicks, Linda Ronstadt, and Solomon Burke, and on the strength of this album you can see why.
Recorded in a makeshift studio in a rented house in Austin, Texas, this album puts Griffin firmly in the driving seat. Her bluesy alto voice manages to capture that difficult balance of quiet but powerful, and accompaniment ranges from a horn section on the energetic and raucous ''Stay On The Road'', to soaring piano on the beautiful ''Burgundy Shoes''.
Recorded with a 9 person string section, conducted and arranged by John Mark Painter, there is a feel of cinematic grandness to some of the tracks here, used best on ''Up To The Mountain (MLK Song)'', a tribute to Martin Luther King.
''Don’t Ever Give Up'' is a slow-building anthem for perseverance, with the string section coming into full force to help her ever-strong vocal reach its lush-sounding climax, before fading away into an acoustic finish. In contrast ''I’m Getting Ready'', is a fast-paced country rock track about a woman preparing to dump her less than perfect partner.
While Griffin's always been a recording artist of quality, this album could be the one which finally lifts her out of her primary role as songwriter of choice to the stars mentioned above and will see her finally recognised as a performer in her own right. Fingers crossed...