Patty Griffin’s American Kid
I met Patty Griffin once. Walked past her on the street in Telluride, then realized who she was. Turned around without thinking and said, “Hello Ms. Griffin. Looking forward to your show tomorrow night.” She stopped and acknowledged me, but she seemed a bit confused. I said goodbye, took a few steps, then realized that the show was the night after that, turned around spoke to her again, just to straighten things out. Doubly confused by this, she smiled, said goodbye and moved on. We haven’t kept in touch since then.
I did see her play in the Band of Joy with “beau” Robert Plant (I’m quoting Rolling Stone on the “beau” part) two nights later. It rained like hell that night, but cleared a bit as their show was starting. I had seen her play before, but I was blown away by how much she influenced the sound of that all-star band. Such a tiny person, but so powerful on stage.
So now we have a new record from her, American Kid. You can stream it at, of all places, the Wall Street Journal. Here’s the link.
First run through the record, I’m liking it. Griffin made it in Memphis with Luther and Cody Dickinson. One of the cuts, Ohio, has an official video – its sound is more reminiscent of the Band of Joy sound, where the instrumental side sort of jangles around and lets the vocals drive the song. You can see that video over at Rolling Stone. Plant sings with her on Ohio, and makes brief appearances in the video. Plant sings on Highway song, too, and its total harmony approach also reminds us of Band of Joy and the Raising Sand record. A more minimal contribution to Faithful Son makes Plant a part of three of the album’s 12 songs.
The other songs seem more like Patty Griffin tunes than Band of Joy. Her vocals are accompanied by stripped down, old sounding, instrumental work. The songwriting is great and mainly focused, we are told, on her father, who recently passed away. Here she is live, doing Don’t Let Me Die in Florida, with a nice intro about her dad:
I’ll end this brief review of Ms. Griffin’s excellent record with a video of her doing the first cut, a sweet song about her dad, written after his death. Go Wherever You Wanna Go:
American Kid will be released on New West Records on May 7.
Mando Lines listens to music a lot, writes about it a little. A lot of the little he writes about it is on Twitter @mando_lines.