Patty Griffin, Downtown Church

by Laurie Henzel

Singer-songwriter extraordinaire, Patty Griffin, releases a new album today of Inspirational material called Downtown Church (Credential/EMI).  I’m lovin’ it so much that I need to testify to you all about how great it is. Let’s face it, not alot of white girls (the great Neko Case aside) can sing this type of material and pull it off but, but then again, they ain’t Patty Griffin. The songs found here run the gamut from hymn style tracks, “House Of Gold”, “We Shall All Be Reunited”; knee slappin’ up beat numbers, “Move Up” “Wade In The Water”; tender ballads “Coming Home To Me”; blues “Death’s Got A Warrant” “The Strange Man”; and acoustic Folk songs like “Little FIre” which includes Patty’s best gal pal, Emmylou Harris on harmony vocals. My personal faves are the covers of Mavis Staples “Waiting For My Child To Come Home” (which is very timely considering the situation in Haiti) and Big Mama Thorton’s “I Smell A Rat”. The latter has Patty’s vocal prowess tearin’ the shit out of it while telling off the man who done her wrong, to watch his ass ‘cause she’s hip to his shit. Part of the reason this all works so well is Buddy Miller’s spot on production and that this album was actually recorded at the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN. If you like the Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack type Americana roots you’ll be amped to give this one a spin. Even if you’re not, Downtown Church is a heavenly collection of songs uniquely performed by a sista with real soul. Believe me children, Patty Griffin has shown me the way and will help you too to see the light. Hallelujah baby and Amen! – Michael Levine

photo: Traci Goudie

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