On her fifth studio CD, folk-rocker Patty Griffin employs three timeless themes--childhood, flight, and death--to craft her most musically diverse and accessible album yet. But while moving through jazz, beatnik, classic and modern folk, gospel R&B, Americana, and moody piano ballad, Griffin keeps her backing quiet and spare, all the more to showcase the power of her deft storytelling and the bell clarity of her unadorned soprano. On song after song, the characters who waft through her experience are on the move, chasing one thing and fleeing another--on trains, ships, buses, in cars, even on the aerialist's bar--ultimately trading an ending of one kind for a new beginning and transference. Sometimes--as on the Rickie Lee Jones-ish "Stay on the Ride," where an old man with no name answers an existential urge for going--they don't even know what it is. "Trapeze," the most resonant offering, follows an aging circus performer who'd rather work without a net than take her chances in love. Here, Emmylou Harris adds one of her most aching harmony lines to Griffin's exquisite, ethereal lead, while in the next track, "Getting Ready," the singer turns a 180, laying a sneering Dylanesque vocal over a fiercely scrubbed acoustic guitar and an occasional dissonant kiss-off. "Baby, baby, you were my drug/And I was just your cigarette," she drones knowingly. One suspects that particular object of her affections will soon regret it. --Alanna Nash
More from Patty Griffin
Patty Giffin's latest offering, is co-produced by Griffin and Mike McCarthy (spoon) captures the voice and words of one of the most important singer songwriters of our time. Lush, dynamic, and provocative, the two time Grammy nominated artist resonates with time Grammy nominated artist resonates with songs that are both contemporary and timeless. The set includes 12 new Griffin penned tunes including a guest vocal appearance by Emmylou Harris on the enchanting 'Trapeze.' Patty's work has been and continues to be revered by a broad array of contemporaries, including, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Dave Mathews, Natalie Manes, Kelly Clarkson and Jessica Simpson, who's recent single is the Patty Classic, 'Let Him Fly' and Griffin appears as a guest vocalist on the new Solomon Burke effort.