Patterson Barrett is a journeyman musician of the highest order. Along with an impressive stream of solo endeavors, his work as a session man regularly enriches the efforts of others. On his new album, the aptly titled Give ‘Em What They Want, several of Patterson’s pals repay the favor — Buddy Miller, Gurf Morlix, Brian Langlinas, Jim Lauderdale, and Renee Wahl among them.
Not that Barrett doesn’t make music that succeeds on its own merits as well. As judged by the eleven songs contained herein, his reputation as a tacit troubador is solid. Wit is a prime resource here; “Coldwater County” drops in the lyrics of several well known standards of a vintage variety to spawn what’s best described as an authentic hillbilly lament. The loose and loping “Young Alleycats” references the downhome approach once borne out by The Band, making it a decidedly agreeable entry that’s representative of Barrett’s obvious influences. Likewise, the funky strut that accompanies the title track brings to mind the Southern sass of Little Feat, just as the blissful ballad “If I Only Knew” and the untitled bonus track show he’s equally adept at imparting a tender touch. This is home-brewed music of the finest variety, a sound that has him situated somewhere between the neighbors’ back porch and a local honky tonk that’s located just up the street and well within reach.
Barrett takes on an unassuming stance throughout, and between the pedal steel guitars, the lilting delivery and a genuinely humble vocal stance, there lack of pretense and posturing is ready made to endear him to his listener, even on first hearing. Give ‘Em What They Want provides all it promises.