Patty Griffin Reviewed

Patty Griffin Reviewed

Patty Griffin

1000 Kisses (ATO) Whether it's by coincidence or design, there are few things sweeter in popular music than artists and their fans falling on the same page; for close to six years, Patty Griffin diehards have longed for a proper follow-up to her minimalist debut, Living With Ghosts. While 1999's Flaming Red was wonderfully eclectic, with plenty of electric moments, it lacked her debut's sharp focus and lush vitality -- as did the unreleased Silver Bells, an album of mostly paint-by-numbers Americana that Interscope did her a favor by passing on. 1000 Kisses is indeed the album that gives the people what they want, and damned if Griffin doesn't sound pleased to be offering this gritty and intimate return to mostly acoustic form. With just 10 tunes and less than 40 minutes, Griffin accomplished more in two days in producer/guitarist Doug Lancio's Nashville basement than some singer-songwriters accomplish in a decade. From the environmental radiance of the opening "Rain" to the poignant and elegant "Be Careful," Griffin continually proves there's beauty and grace in simplicity and efficiency. Better still are the taut, but vivid narratives of "Chief" and "Making Pies," the latter being the sole Silver Bells holdover. And while a trio of covers on an album this compact might seem a bit extravagant, breathtaking versions of Bruce Springsteen's "Stolen Car" and Lonnie Johnson's 1948 R&B hit "Tomorrow Night" show off interpretive skills as every bit as devastating as her voice. All told, 1000 Kisses isn't the kind of album likely to spawn singles or forge a household name, but it's the type of album careers are built on and one that Patty Griffin and her followers can treasure together.

* * * .5

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