Patty Griffin (PGM Recordings)
Reviewed by Elise Barbin, Fri., April 12, 2019
Ten releases in, Patty Griffin finally adorns an album with her name. Consider it a declaration of identity, a statement of certainty. The longtime local casts a stream of her roots – of wiles and woes – warbling stories from a lifetime of womanhood. Simplicity runs through the flamenco flourishes, plunking barroom strums, and Celtic-tinged fingerpicking, all evidence of the album's down-home production. "River," an anthemic ode to femininity, finds the songstress striding alongside ethereal string work grounded in earthy guitar tones – recipe for a soon-to-be classic. "The Wheel" measures six minutes long and ranks the most realized instrumentally, its roving, gritty tale painted in coats of skipping percussion and rambling riffs. The can't-quit-you finale "Just the Same" bookends on heartbreak. For additional fuel, Griffin's former paramour Robert Plant lends subtle yet mesmerizing backing vox to two other tracks. Despite the doleful endnote, what comes through is intimacy cloaked with confidence, equally evocative throughout Patty Griffin whether delivered via blues whispers or chest-out brassy bravado. Wrapping in just under an hour, this ultra tight-knit collection telegraphs timelessness in story and song, a lasting chronicle rooted in folk tradition that sits among Griffin's best work.