Recorded mostly live in the studio with a small ensemble, 1,000 Kisses offers an unblemished view of Patty Griffin's breathtaking talents. There are times when questionable production choices have sabotaged the emotional directness of her material, but here she lays it out with both full gusto and intelligent economy. "Rain" starts things with one of her most affecting melodies, while "Be Careful" gently sets up an ominous warning for anyone venturing into matters of the heart. Her stark reading of Bruce Springsteen's "Stolen Car" adds a film-noir twist to the album that's further emphasized by a cool interpretation of the late-night blues torch ballad "Tomorrow Night." Throw in "Long Ride Home" as a marriage of 40 years ends in a funeral car, where Griffin offers: "Forty years of things you say you wish you'd never said/How hard would it have been to say some kinder words instead." Few singers can find such affecting words to match, and few writers find a voice that can convey it all with a breath.