Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Today marks the release of Patty Griffin's Downtown Church, a warm collection of tracks with surprising range for a gosepl album. Yes, gosepl. Bite your tongue- this isn't a very special evening with Michael W. Smith. This record has spunk. There's the secular band jam "Move Up," the Patty-originals "Little Fire" and "Coming Home to Me" in which she applies her finely tuned gift for heart-wrenching melodies. The former receives gorgeous harmony from Emmylou Harris; the latter from Julie Miller.

Downtown Church is in no way a "Patty Griffin" record. It's a team effort--and what a team it is. Buddy Miller-- who is quite possibly the luckiest man alive-- produced the record in addition to mixing, playing and lending his instantly recognizable chords to a handful of tracks. Rounding out the guest vocalists are Ann and Regina McCrary, Shawn Colvin, Jim Lauderdale, Mike Farris and Raul Malo.

But while Patty shares the spotlight with an impeccable team of musicians and vocalists, the album works on so many levels because of the strength of the material itself. With the exception of the two original Patty tunes, the most recently written song on the album was penned in 1967--and nearly half of the album belongs in the Public Domain.

One of those traditional songs--"Death's Go A Warrant"-- and the Leiber & Stoller track "I Smell A Rat" are two prime examples of the sweet soul pipes Mama Griffin posesses. To put it simply, Patty makes these melodies her bitch.

Never has a record in her discography so perfectly captured the many flavors of her voice. Children Running Through came incredibly close, but here it's evident within the first three tracks that this production quality puts her catalog to shame. I'm on my fourth listen of the night and all I can say is thank you, Buddy Miller. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

1. House of Gold [Hank Williams]
2. Move Up [Traditional]
3. Little Fire [Patty Griffin]
4. Death's Got A Warrant [Traditional]
5. If I Had My Way [Traditional]
6. Coming Home To Me [Patty Griffin]
7. Wade In The Water [Traditional]
8. Never Grow Old [Traditional]
9. Virgen de Guadalupe [Traditional]
10. I Smell A Rat [Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller]
11. Waiting For My Child [Sullivan Pugh]
12. The Strange Man [Dorothy Love Coates]
13. We Shall All Be Reunited [A. Karnes and B.Bateman]
14. All Creatures of Our God And King [Traditional]

No comments: