Patty Griffin – Children Running Through (2007): Review

patty

Produced by Patty Griffin and Mike McCarthy
Label – ATO

There’s little doubt that Patty Griffin’s career has been an accumulation of false starts. Two unreleased albums at the back end of the last century, one of which was produced by Nile Rodgers, four lukewarm studio albums, ejection from her record label, it’s a wonder she’s had the spirit to go on. And yet, those who have covered her music, including Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and Solomon Burke amongst many others, would argue that the Maine Folk rocker possesses genuine song writing talent, it just seems she’d yet to find the vehicle to best interpret her own material. Maybe it has been the consistent battles in showcasing her work, that have finally realized the majestic “Children Running Through”, a record so understated and brimming with earthy vitality, it could have only been borne out from the trials and tribulations of a struggling career. Every song carries heartfelt hope, of Resurrection, Heavenly days, mountain air, the sun, and new beginnings. Her wistful soprano is as fresh as morning dew, there’s more authority than previous recordings, a confidence that summarizes her arrival with uplifting power. None more so than “Trapeze”, which follows a circus performer who’d rather perform without a net than take yet another gamble on love, and the dual vocals of Griffin and Emmylou merges perfectly to create a shimmering, resonant sound that perfectly supports the song.

children

A powerful motive for some of the best songs is a fierce inner belief, and Patty’s overwhelming positivism burns achingly on the affecting “I Don’t Ever Give Up”, which bleeds Patty’s desire to keep fighting. There’s a sweet childhood reminiscence of Griffin’s mother on the tender Piano ballad “Burgundy Shoes” which echoes Tori Amos circa “Little Earthquakes”. The music crosses many boundaries including traditional Folk, old style R&B, Gospel, Alt. Country, and Folk Rock with consummate ease, and Mike McCarthy’s production allows Griffin’s vocals centre stage, to soar like never before. Patty confirmed this on her website, stating that previous producers had always insisted she tone down her voice to add unnecessary fragility. String arranger John Mark Painter adds breathtakingly dramatic orchestral sweeps to many of the songs, and there’s joyous Mariachi horns on the electrically charged “No Bad News”, as the handclapped rhythms and urgent delivery suggest the sense of fun Griffin must have enjoyed whilst recording the song. Perhaps, in a quiet moment in her own company, Patty realizes that the underlying component that created that sense of enjoyment was because she’d just made the best recording of her life.

Remarkably, Griffin has shaken off the miss fires of past recordings, and burst free with her most inspired collection. “Children Running Through” is the carefully balanced musical tonic that no-one thought she was capable of. This years’ glorious epiphany for sure.

8/10

Track Listing
1.”You’ll Remember” – 2:07
2.”Stay on the Ride” – 5:17
3.”Trapeze” – 4:23
4.”Getting Ready” – 3:15
5.”Burgundy Shoes” – 3:26
6.”Heavenly Day” – 3:45
7.”No Bad News” – 4:02
8.”Railroad Wings” – 3:59
9.”Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)” – 4:08
10.”I Don’t Ever Give Up” – 4:00
11.”Someone Else’s Tomorrow” – 4:06
12.”Crying Over” – 4:37

No Bad News

Up To The Mountain (MLK Song)

I Don’t Ever Give Up

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