amongst books

amongst books

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Patty Griffin – Servant of Love (Self Released, Thirty Tigers, 2015)

from the opening title track, Servant of Love, this album mesmerizes with Patty Griffin’s voice & the haunting piano, followed by the echo of a sax. “I want to live, I want to live, by an ocean…held by your silent words from the deep calling to me.”

I love the feisty guitar & matching brass wail of Gunpowder. the song is a kind of blend of country & jazz.

Good as Gone has an Eastern feel to it. Lots of strings, a dark pluck of the bass maybe...I wish I had a knack for figuring out instruments. All of the songs are very intense.

Hurt A Little While has a Chicago bluesy feel to it. Good howling blues & matching electric guitar fuzz. I’m amazed at the versatility of this album. No one song sounds the same. What they have in common is Griffin’s strong voice, which has a smoky sound.

250,000 Miles is my favourite song of the album, after Servant of Love, with its beautiful multi-layering of harmonies & instruments. it’s a haunting & melancholy song.  & midway through we get this Eastern sound.

Made of the Sun opens prettily with bright guitar & then Patty’s voice, honeyed & clear. The sounds are bright yellow for  me, the higher chords on the guitar, the higher notes sung.

Everything’s Changed has a mesmerizing, repetitive and insistent beat. The tone is darker than the previous song and the lyrics are sparse. The song comes across as a chant.

Rider of Days is a pretty ballad that reminds me of Irish folk tunes. It’s a song that reminds us to live in the moment, to celebrate it. The whole album is influenced by this theme. Sunny elaborate guitar work goes well with the smooth and strong tones of Patty’s voice. This song feels like a proclamation.

There Isn’t One Way is a more raucous and feisty song, evocative of Lucinda Williams or Bonnie Rait with a blues-rock feel from the electric guitar accompaniment and rhythm. Bass too & drums. Apparently the album was made with few instruments, but they have a lot of versatility & are used to create a lot of different styles of song.
Patty lets her voice get rougher for this song. Her throatiness here reminds me of Melissa Etheridge.

Noble Ground has an understated opening with Patty singing in a low and quiet voice. Its pacing is slow. Then the song opens up with some fancy piano work and a bit of trumpet. It’s a song of rebellion.

Snake Charmer is a fun & fast song, very playful. Apparently the cool high echoey sound on the song is an omnichord. I’m normally not a fan of album producers; they have been known to mask the strength of the music in fancy complexities, but in this case, the producers were Patty Griffin herself and Craig Ross. the production translates the music well.

You Never Asked Me begins quietly with the piano, is one of the sweetest and saddest songs of the album, about the end of a relationship. Gorgeous voice paired with piano intoning disaster. Lyrically it’s my favourite song of the album.

the album finishes up with Shine A Different Way which begins with bright guitar and Patty’s hopeful voice.

listen to this album when you’re sick of the dark, grey days and you’re curled up on the couch with a lover, looking for solace, comfort & fellow rebels. Patty Griffin’s voice alone, so exquisitely beautiful, makes this album an essential record for the close listener.


this is my favourite album of 2015.

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