Living with Ghosts
Patty Griffin’s debut album rather loudly announces the emergence of a major talent. Her petite frame and sparse acoustic arrangements only accentuate her powerful delivery. Her voice can whisper seductively (“Not Alone”) and without warning rev up to an emotionally charged shriek (“Every Little Thing”). These dynamics infuse her tunes of loneliness with a fighting spirit that make them sound as much like victory speeches as admissions of loss. Griffin attempted to record this album proper; however, unhappy with the results, it was decided the demo tape of just voice and acoustic guitar that led to her recording contract was closer to the truth. Her songs have since been covered by an array of stars (Dixie Chicks, Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Reba McEntire) and her career’s bumpy road has smoothed somewhat. However, her divorce, the leap from waitressing in Boston to a music career, and her own sense of doom (“Nothing really matters in the end, you know / all the worries sever / don’t be afraid for me, my friend / one day we all fall down forever”) have made her a stubborn force. Tracks such as “Moses,” “Let Him Fly” and “Sweet Lorraine” are a worthy introduction.