Patty Griffin has always taken her time in creating music. Her fans back her up and are patient enough to wait long period of times for new material to pop out. They know that their idol is releasing new songs when she is ready to do it and only when she has something worthwhile to say. Thus, it’s no surprise that her seventh album, American Kid, hit the stores after a long wait, but her fans couldn’t be happier.
The record, out May 7 on New West, sooner than its official release date on May 13, pays tribute to her late father, who died in 2009. Griffin wrote the songs during the time leading up to his passing and then she recorded them after the release of Downtown Church. It’s an impetuous collection of songs that, just like the pieces of a puzzle, make the story of a life.
American Kid opens with “Go Wherever You Wanna Go”, a song that celebrates freedom in every possible way and makes reference about the freedom of the human spirit, who is rewarded after death, for enduring earthly burdens. Her soaring vocal delivery is unchanged, making the listener’s heart fill with serenity and peace. North Mississippi AllStar Luther Dickinson’s sliding steel guitar comes in at the right moment, punctuating the hidden power of Griffin’s vocals. “Ohio”, with its curious blend of styles and textures and featuring guest Robert Plant on harmonies, and “Highway Song”, take on the pains of saying goodbye. Somehow, in Griffin’s unique style, these two songs sound oddly optimistic and are filled with the hope for reunion through dreamlike. They are smooth, beautiful and very calming tracks that sleek the path for the other songs.
“Don’t Let Me Die in Florida” bleeds sarcastic humor and abounds in drums and rock guitar lines, “Faithful Son” is a sad song, despite having “…kept the promises I made” and “Get Ready Marie” is exactly the opposite, it’s optimistic, playful and about the long gone days, when the brides were shy and pure. Moreover, for a couple of songs, Griffin steps into her father’s character and sings about his life. “Irish Boy”, which finds her father at the piano, singing of returning from war and the promise of a new life, and “Not a Bad Man”, which takes on the unpleasant face of war and a troubled conscience, provide a glimpse into her dead father’s life.
On “That Kind of Lonely” she returns to her feminine role, as if entering into the skin of her mother, who has to stay with a man who wrestles with his inner demons. Then, the final track plays along and “Gonna Miss You When You’re Gone” ends the album by honoring the man who raised her.
Therefore, Patty Griffin’s new album will not let you down. American Kid is brave, peaceful, filled with emotional savvy and true stories. For those who know how to read between the lines, this album is a glorious piece of art, a jewel that highlights her craftsmanship skills better than ever.