American Kid

Patty Griffin

New West Records, 2013

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Though most of us might not be immediately familiar with the name Patty Griffin, the vast majority has heard her music by way of mainstream artists who have covered her. With multiple Grammy Awards and an incredible amount of influence across several generations, this woman is both a musician's musician as well as a comforting voice for the every person who can easily find solace in her warm, back to basics, folk-inspired stories. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Her first album of largely original songs since Children Running Through, her seventh album American Kid came to life after the passing of her father and serves as way to sort through his absence. Undoubtedly one of the sparsest collections of her career, this album finds Griffin making good use of acoustic guitars, hushed percussion, mandolins, and pianos, though her inimitable voice is the most vital tool at her disposable. Additionally, Robert Plant makes appearances, as well has her usual backing musicians and members of North Mississippi All Stars.

Primarily using gospel, blues, country, and folk influences, Griffin delivers soft, soulful songs with much emotion. Tracks like “Go Wherever You Wanna Go” and “That Kind Of Lonely” are particularly somber and stripped back, as Griffin leans more toward the maudlin side of things. Even more stripped down is “Irish Boy,” where she only has the aid of a piano with her voice, while “Get Ready Marie” is a more full song that warrants waltz dancing.

Robert Plant makes his contributions more than worthwhile, making the duet “Ohio” one of the best tracks, as Plant provides the harmony on the ever so nimble first single. On “Highway Song,” an endearing love song, Plant and Griffin both take the vocal spotlight, their subdued pipes working in unison. The aptly titled closer is one of the most beautiful moments, as the dreamy “Gonna Miss You When You're Gone” reminds us what the foundation of the album was birthed on.

There's a wealth of emotions running through this pensive disc. It's hard to listen to this and not ponder your own mortality or think about those closest to you. Griffin has crafted a rare work of infinite elegance that has the ability to level you with just a breathy whisper.

Rating: A

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© 2013 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of New West Records, and is used for informational purposes only.