Thu Feb 15 2007
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5
This Austin-based alt-country artist probably bought her house with proceeds from her busy songwriting career. A favorite of both Nashville traditionalists and pop heavyweights, she’s penned tunes performed by Martina McBride, the Dixie Chicks, Jessica Simpson and many others. But over the past decade, Patty Griffin has also quietly built one of the richest discographies in current roots music, one grounded in plainspoken slice-of-life stories but brightened by the stylistic dabblings of a restless creative mind.
Children Running Through, Griffin’s latest studio disc, is a typically expansive collection. She’s said that the album was inspired by the gospel and traditional R&B she heard growing up in small-town Maine, and there’s ample evidence to support her claim: Opener “You’ll Remember” is a stripped-down torch ballad that spotlights Griffin’s deep-grain vocals, while “Stay on the Ride,” with its insistent bass groove and salty horn bursts, is as close as anyone in Griffin’s alt-country cohort has come to a James Brown moment.
Yet with help from frequent Spoon producer Mike McCarthy, Griffin also fills Children with gestures toward plenty of other forms. “Getting Ready” kicks up a ragged, Bright Eyes--style folk-rock racket, “Burgundy Shoes” floats atop dreamy Sarah McLachlan--esque piano tinkles, and “No Bad News” sports cool Southwestern brass. Willfully eclectic but never random, the album should earn Griffin calls from a new set of well-known admirers. — Mikael Wood