Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Contemporary folk, folk/rock, some blues
Most recent release, American Kid (2013)
Patty Griffin's site
Time Does the Talking: News (a fan site),
another fan page
The Patty Griffin/Mad-Mission@smoe Mailing List Homepage
Katie Peterson's Patty Griffin Guitar Tabs Archive
I'd say she falls somewhere in between Ani Difranco and Patti Rothberg. (email@example.com)
Own; occasional collaborations, and occasional covers in concert
A little more "poppy" than Ani Difranco, but still wonderful. Even though I've read reviews that compare Patty to Jewel, I can't see it. If you like the "poppy" side of life, you can do worse than Patty. (Matt.Bittner)
The first thing I heard her do was "Cain" on the Lilith Fair double CD. I was blown away! Bonnie Raitt meets Aretha Franklin! I went out and bought Living With Ghosts on the strength of that song and was rather disappointed that it was actually a very quiet (in comparison) album. I like it...but I was expecting to be knocked down, like with "Cain"! Well, Flaming Red has now lived up to that! Youza! She has got SOME VOICE! (fleur)
But does she still yell at people? That's what makes Living With Ghosts completely unlistenable for me—after a while I just want her to STOP SCREAMING AT ME. I haven't dared ever see her play live for the same reason. It sounds like the music is finally catching up to her vocal decibel level, but I'm not entirely sure that's a good thing. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Comments about live performance:
I'd have to say I was pretty impressed. I've heard her discussed a bit before, but hadn't really heard her stuff. Anyway, she rocked. I felt the occasional bit of cultural cognitive dissonance—I felt I was listening to a good ol' white boy southern bar band with a country-style vocalist sometimes—but it worked. Groovy. (email@example.com)
Patty blew my kneecaps off with a shotgun. I was on my bloody stump-of-a-pair-of-legs, begging her to stop kicking my ass so hard. She came out and did two songs solo ("Sweet Lorraine" to start *sigh* and then "Poor Man's House")...then she called her new band on stage and they slowly trickled on while she started the next song...it was planned but was so cool...the lead electric guitarist and the drummer came on stage and the drummer picked up the beat from patty's strumming and had a simple backing beat; the lead guitar plugged in and tuned a little then joined in quietly; the keyboardist and the second guitarist came on and fiddled with their instruments then joined in, and then the bassist came on and tuned and then joined in...by the time everyone was on stage, they were all jamming and a minute later, the song was done....
My god was the sound loud. It was difficult to make out what Patty was SINGING, much less saying...but it was still divine...the band really added a great new dimension to her music...she's really tapping into the Rhythm and Blues spirit with a lot of the tunes...man, this concert was non-stop fun. Everyone has to go out and see her if they can. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I had a lot of fun at the show, but wasn't as wowed as Paul. I particularly liked the solo parts—this is the Patty I already knew and liked—solo & acoustic, intense & passionate. The loudness bothered me. I liked hearing the lyrics on the songs, and I wasn't thrilled to see her voice get absorbed into a rock and roll mix. That aside, she can certainly rock with abandon, and most of the songs were raucous good fun. The band did a fine job doing mellow, atmospheric backing, as well as the full throttle rock approach. I preferred the mellower side though, where the intensity came from the singing and guitar playing. Lots of people unplug to get that effect, so it's a little jarring to see her plug in and lose it. All that aside, the show was fun, and I'm looking forward to the new album. Some of those complaints might disappear seeing her after I've had a chance to hear the album. (5/98, neal)
My last experience seeing Patty live was extremely negative. Let's just say that her sound guy needs to learn 2 words (moderation and appropriateness). (email@example.com)
When Patty took the stage it was immediately apparent that a love affair was in the making. Her set was almost entirely composed of tunes from Flaming Red and was fearlessly and flawlessly executed. You could feel the energy radiating from Patty, even 8 rows back where I was sitting. Patty only picked up a guitar for a few numbers, instead dancing around the stage during instrumental breaks, enjoying the moment. Her rendition of "Tony" left me with tears streaming down my face. Sometimes she was leading the band, which was totally in sync both with her and with each other. She was obviously pleased with the reception. (7/98, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Patty was great, but she's a WHOLE LOT different on this tour than any of the other 3 times I've seen her. Watching her sing without the guitar encumbering her movements was fascinating; she gestured a lot and seemed to have better voice control due to the improvement in her posture.
My personal fave of Patty's original tunes for last night was probably "Long Ride Home". She's played this at live shows a couple of times before, and it definitely needs the near-solo treatment with Patty's nice guitar flourishes. Very emotional and gripping. But the Paul Westerberg tune and of course "Crazy" seemed made for her as well; the audience always goes berserk when she wrings out her voice on the last verse of "Crazy"....
I quite liked the heavy band accompaniment on the new tunes, though it was radically different from the treatment on her first album—and even different from the band arrangements on Flaming Red. I guess it just goes to show that it's Patty, and not just the guitar or production, that is worth hearing. :-) (11/98)
I remember being rather blase about Living With Ghosts, too, till I had the opportunity to hear Patty play live. I think the environment has to be just right when you hear her acoustic work, but when it is, the impact stays with you. I've seen her live several times since then, and she always gives an incredible show. She also does a cover of "Crazy" which is guaranteed to knock you flat.
Patty leaves the emotion turned on full blast most of the time, which (even though artfully applied) probably wears some people down quicker. I know an hour-long set from her pretty much wrung me out
physically.... (5/99, email@example.com)
Patty is one of the most amazing performers I've ever seen live, so you don't want to miss this!:) Her band is always so solid, and her voice is powerful and pure. If she's coming to a town near you—go! (11/98, Songbird22@aol.com)
Oh man...major disappointment. First off, the venue was bad. And I REALLY wish Patty would stop trying to be a rock singer and strap the guitar back on—she stood guitarless in front of the mic for about 2/3 of the show with her arms and fingers flailing awkwardly, dredging up unfortunate memories of Joe Cocker in his early days. When she hung a guitar around her neck for "Flaming Red" 5 songs into the set, she finally seemed comfortable and she looked like she was really into it, head whipping back and forth as her incredible voice did its best to rise above the decibles generated by her very very loud (and not particularly good) band. Her acoustic singer/songwriter turn with the band offstage would have been wonderful but for the drunks at the bar. Alas, Patty spent most of the rest of the set without the guitar, including the riveting "Wiggley Fingers", being drowned out by the sheer volume of her band.
I LOVE Patty Griffin: I think she has one of the most distinctive and dynamic voices of all the girl singers around, but she really needs to work on her stage presence. That being said, I would drop everything to see her again, anyplace but in *that* hole.
One more thing: Her first encore, she did the blues standard "Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home" which just blew us away—Gawd, the girl can *really* sing the blues!
Please Patty, get some musicians who are worthy of your talents.... and I think your best moments were when you did your own rhythm guitar and you seemed liberated from the tyranny of The Microphone. (10/98, firstname.lastname@example.org)
What a great show! She played for about an hour and a quarter—a mix of recorded
and new stuff. The new songs are excellent. Her guitarist (I think his name was Doug Lancio) was unbelievable, adding a lot of texture to the songs without ever being in the way. Patty sounded great too. All in all, a completely spellbinding experience. (9/01, Sherlyn.Koo)
she's so stunning as is... (email@example.com)
Recommended first album:
Living With Ghosts for solo acoustic or Flaming Red for a more rock sound
1996—A&M Records—31454 0490 2
Wide in U.S.
Patty Griffin—guitar, vocals
Adam Steinberg—guitar & arrangement on "Let Him Fly"
Ty Tyler—high string guitar on "Time Will Do The Talking"
This is the best new release to catch my attention in a while. It's 10 songs of just her with an acoustic guitar, but I find the songs very powerful and not sleepy as you might expect from a solo acoustic album. I heard the almost-title track (actually called "Every Little Bit") being played in a co-worker's office this week and I instantly knew I had to hear the rest of it. Her music is very melodic, she sings with wonderful power and dynamics, and her lyrics paint great pictures. She's from Nashville apparently, so some of that southern sound but I definitely wouldn't label it a country album. There's a touch of Joan-Osborne-y type blues in one of the tracks, and I'm sure she reminds me of someone else too but I can't place it. Patty says her favorite album in high school was Ricki Lee Jones, so obviously she was a big influence. I find the cd hard to turn off, so it's a definite winner in my books. "Forgiveness" is the one that really does it for me. I find the way she tells the story especially powerful, and of course her expression is killer. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A wonderful disc. (Matt.Bittner)
i think living with ghosts is seriously terrific. (email@example.com)
Some real nice vocals and songwriting. Not a whole lot of variation in the instrumentation, (pretty much all acoustic guitar strumming) but I feel like this will grow on me. The last song, a ballad, reminds me a bit of Maria McKee. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
From the first few bars of the first song on this album, "Moses" you know you're experiencing a new and exciting artist that is sure to make people take notice. Just in case you think it's a fluke, the 2nd song "Let Him Fly" guarantees it is not and the 8 remaining songs only solidify the power and excitement of this album. (email@example.com)
Absolutely stellar. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I had a serious re-discovery this weekend from within my own CD collection. Before a long trip, I grabbed a few CDs at random out of my considerable collection, and one of them ended up being Living With Ghosts. I had picked it up probably a year or so ago from a used CD bin, had listened to it a few times, and wasn't greatly impressed. Then I heard "One Big Love" playing on my college radio station nearly every day, and bought Flaming Red. I thought it was pretty good ("Tony", "One Big Love" are great songs), but quite uneven; she was often overpowered by her band.
Now I see why Flaming Red wasn't only a little uneven, it was also a huge disappointment and come-down from her debut.
Living With Ghosts is phenomenol. I listened to it three times on my way home, and it's gotta be up to about twelve listens through by now. This is certainly one of the great acoustic albums of the decade; I'd even put it next to Brenda Kahn's Epiphany in Brooklyn.
The album is basically just Griffin and her acoustic guitar, and the storytelling lyrics are incredibly moving. It's not very polished, but still melodic and utterly beautiful. Perhaps most impressive is her voice. Soulful, even gospel-like, it is full enough to sear through any of the soundscapes her acoustic guitar creates, but also subtle enough to hang on a note and make you weep. A comparison to some of Jewel's early, unreleased, live work is somewhat accurate, before Jewel became insufferably bland and over-produced, but Griffin's work here is much better.
This is a phenomenol album, and I think I need to dust a spot off on my top-ten list. It's strange how many of my favorite albums of all time were albums I found unimpressive at first...anyhow, I love it. (email@example.com)
Incredible songwriter and a haunting voice. That says enough, but also one of the most powerful acoustic guitar/vocal albums I've ever heard. By far, my favorite release that year. (ABershaw@aol.com)
1998—A&M Records—31454 0907 2
Wide in U.S.
Patty Griffin—vocals, guitar, backing vocals
Jay Joyce—guitars, programming, keys
Doug Lancio, Angelo, Ty Tyler, Daniel Tashian—guitars
Chris Feinstein, Mike Joyce—bass
Kenny Aronoff, Brad Pemberton, Frank Sass—drums
Giles Reeves—programming, keys
Emmylou Harris, Julie Miller, Buddy Miller, and The Iodine Boys Choir—background vocals
Kristin Wilkinson, John Catchings, David Davidson, Kathryn Plummer—strings on "Peter Pan"
Jay Joyce, except "One Big Love" produced by Angelo with additional production by Jay Joyce; Michael Baker—executive producer
it's alright, but didn't strike me very much. the softer songs seem somewhat emmylou harris mit danny lanois-ish, which is a better thing than the brashness of the harder tunes. i don't think she made the transition to rawk as well as, say, brenda kahn did on destination nowhere. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I picked up Flaming Red, after waiting to hear the single 'One Big Love', which I really love. I was very hesitant about buying the CD as my last experience seeing Patty live was extremely negative. Let's just say that her sound guy needs to learn 2 words (moderation and appropriateness). Anyway, if you've been turned off by her 'screaming' vocal style, Flaming Red is toned down considerably and is a pleasure to listen to. (email@example.com)
the new CD is great. except i hate the first song, which is also the title track "flaming red". i fast forward through it anytime i listen to it. stand-out tracks for me are "tony" and "christina". (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I'm going to jump on the Patty Griffin bandwagon. The first single, "One Big Love" was getting an incredible amount of airplay in the boston area, so I picked up the album on the strength of what to me is an irresistibly catchy single! "Tony" and "Christina" are also my two favorite songs of the pack, and I must also agree that the first song is just noise. A little too much wail, not enough singing. (email@example.com)
OK, it's official—Patty Griffin is in the pantheon. Flaming Red is every bit as amazing as Living With Ghosts—even though it is clearly different (yet not so different). I love this woman's music. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Everyone go out and get Flaming Red now! or at least listen to it once.... (email@example.com)
Flaming Red: Patty launches herself into orbit. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shocking to many of her hard core "acoustic" fan base, but exactly what I knew she would do given the opportunity to work in a band context. I always thought Patty was on the verge of "spontaneously combusting" at the solo acoustic gigs I saw, & it's great to hear her "let it rip" with her band. (ABershaw@aol.com
Totally different in style from her excellent premiere release; almost over-produced, yet compelling, with many fine songs. (Greg Dunn)
Patty Griffin—vocals, guitar, finger cymbals, resonator guitar, fireplace screen
Doug Lancio—12 string guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, nylon string guitar, vibes
Giles Reaves—vibes, tom tom, djembe, bells, banjo head, pie plate, drums, screen door, kick drum, high hat, cymbals
Michael Ramos—accordion, sub-bass
Carrie Luz Rodriguez—violin
David Pulkingham—classical guitar
Luis Guerra—stand up bass
Emmylou Harris—harmony vocals on "Long Ride Home"
Patty Griffin and Doug Lancio, Michael Ramos ("Mil Besos")
Patty is a stupendous artist, with a fantastic, heartbreaking voice. Her first album, Living With Ghosts is a must-have. It started out as a series of demos, but got released as it was—just her and her guitar, and that stunning voice. The follow-up, Flaming Red was a rockier, more anthemic affair, with a full band, but it still had some of the lyrical tenderness. And then came Silver Bell.
Interscope, her label, decided it wasn't commercial enough, and refused to release it. Patty parted company from Interscope shortly after. 1000 Kisses is her first album since then, and to say it's been eagerly anticipated would be an understatement.
That's part of the problem. 1000 Kisses is something, after all this wait, of a disappointment. Patty has been busy touring, and various bootlegs show her in a prolific mode, with scores of great songs being performed up and down the States. With 1000 Kisses, we get 3 covers included in the 39 minutes, and I can't help but feel a little short-changed. Sure, you still have the great voice, but her lyrical talents are all part of it. The album starts off with the brilliant "Rain", which has to rate among her best ever songs—beautifully written, arranged and performed. After that, the album stumbles and struggles to find his balance: "Chief" is an innocuous anecdotal song, "Making Pies" (a fave among Patty fans, it has to be said) somewhat better. Only "Nobody's Crying" comes close to the opener, however, and the superior dinner-theatre cabaret of "Tomorrow Night" (I only read this was a cover recently—I may be wrong) is only passable, before the giant cheesiness of "Mil Besos" hits in. This is sung in Spanish, and reminds me of the anodyne EPs my parents, inexplicably, used to listen to in the early '60s, the covers all adorned with serenading toreadors and ladies with long eyelashes. I have actually found this track unlistenable, and this is the bottom line: My first Patty Griffin album where I actually skip songs.
Not everyone finds it that bad—the Patty Griffin list was buzzing with dialectic when this came out, and it was interesting to see that a dedicated list (where, I've found, the fans tend to put the "fan" back into "fanatical") could be home to such dissent. A disappointment, though, in my opinion. Big time. (email@example.com)
A live offering from this AMAZING singer and songwriter! I have been in love with her since the first time I heard Flaming Red back in '98. What a voice! What lyrics! What a pure joy for your senses!!! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The first disc of this set would be worth the money alone. Beautiful versions of "Mary," "Christina," "Nobody's Crying" and other songs. Love the addition of accordion to the band. Not much in-between banter, but the little there is reveals a soft-spoken and charming woman.
A lot of bonus DVD material is filler that's not very interesting to watch more than once. But A Kiss In Time's DVD is actually really well put together. The beautiful, animated video of "Rain" would have been enough, but you also get the "Chief" video, interviews, clips of Patty on the road, and photographs. (JoAnn Whetsell)
2004—ATO Records—ATO0017 88088-21520-2
Patty Griffin—guitar, piano, vocals, backing vocals
JD Foster—bass, percussion
Ian McLagan—electric piano, piano
Doug Lancio—guitar, electric mandolin
Craig Ross—baritone guitar, percussion, synth, guitar, tambourine, backing vocal
Brian Beattie—pump organ, bowed bass
Lisa Germano—violin, zither
Buddy Miller—backing vocals (1, 8)
Julie Miller—backing vocals (1, 3)
Emmylou Harris—backing vocals (3)
My initial impressions of the new Patty are good—I think it's a really beautiful album. I have caveats: I'd like to hear her be a little more daring, to rock out á la Flaming Red or Silver Bell [unreleased album] (where she struck the best balance, in my opinion), and at times she sounds like she's found a formula and is sticking to it. She does it well, though, and her lyrical gift and great voice give a bittersweet twist even when it sounds vaguely familiar (I'm thinking of "Useless Desires"). I don't mind "Standing", because I think it's a different sound for her, although I too could do without her parents singing. I'm sure she loves her folks, but...I much prefer it when she integrates them into the songs, like in the Silver Bell version of "Top of the World". (email@example.com)
I find Patty's new album to be captivating. She starts off with "Love Throw a Line," a gospel-flavored, hand-clapping, foot-stomping song. It has a different feel than the rest of the album, which is filled with folky ballads, intimate story songs. It works. "Standing," another gospel-influenced song, doesn't work so well for me, not because I don't like the song (I do), but because its sound is somewhat jarring compared to the songs it follows. But I can't think of anywhere else I would have put it where it would have worked better. It might also depend on my mood because sometimes I don't find it disturbing at all.
The thing I find most jarring about the album is the clip of Patty's parents singing "Impossible Dream" smack in the middle of the record. It breaks up the flow. And the flow of this album is so important and so beautiful. It's like a river carrying us along, allowing us to look into the windows of the houses we pass and peek into people's lives.
That's not to say the songs sound alike. Like any river there are twists and turns, and the current is faster in some places than in others. The sunny-sounding "Useless Desires" follows the melancholy church sound of "Standing." "Top of the World" is a standout with a darker sound. It's followed by "Rowing Song" which has the feel of a round to it and wonderful horns.
The highlight for me is "When It Don't Come Easy," which is heartbreakingly beautiful lyrically and sonically. I have to admit the last 3 songs kind of fade into each other for me. But when I take the time to listen to them, they're beautiful too. About 5 minutes into "Mother of God," Patty changes the song, slowing it down, softening her voice, and making the strings more prominent. It's fragile, a combination hope and hopelessness.
All said, I like this album a lot. It's not necessarily Patty's best work (though it has a few of her best songs), but it's a wonderful album and another must for fans. (JoAnn.Whetsell)
God I love this woman...her songs....her voice...everything! Each CD she releases is a joy! (Southpaw@southpaw32.com)
Patty Griffin—vox, acoustic guitars, all other piano
Doug Lancio—electric and acoustic guitars, autoharp
Michael Longoria—drums, percussion
J D Foster—electric and acoustic bass (3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 12)
Glenn Worf—electric and tic tac bass, upright acoustic bass (1-3, 6, 9, 10)
Ian McLagan—grand piano (6, 9)
John Mark Painter—string arrangements, horn arrangements, horns
Jane Scarpantoni—solo cello
Jim Hoke—tenor/baritone sax, bass harmonica
Emmylou Harris—guest vocals
Mike McCarthy and Patty Griffin
I've read great reviews of Children Running Through; everyone seems to love the great variety of styles. But for me it's just too much: gospel, driving rock, folk, country, and more, all thrown against each other without transitions to smooth the aural passage. Her last couple of albums were uneven, but had some really brilliant songs. There's nothing terrible on Children Running Through (although some songs are marred by sappy string arrangements), but there's nothing outstanding either. Even the songs I like most ("Heavenly Day" and "Up to the Mountains (MLK Song)") I like, not love. I kept hoping that repeat listens would warm me up to the album, but so far that's not happened, and I have to call this one a big disappointment. (JoAnn.Whetsell)
My stepdad is famous within his family for having said as a child at the dinner table that something was "delicious, but he didn't like it." That's a little bit how I feel about Patty Griffin... It's quite lovely, and I can see how it's a nearly flawless recording, and probably the first time where all of the different versions of Patty have been able to coexist peacefully... But it's almost too adult or too professional for me... Nothing is keeping me coming back... I'm afraid I'll always miss the rawness and immediacy of Living with Ghosts. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Russ Pahl—pedal steel guitar
Buddy Miller—guitar; vocals (2, 8)
Ann McCrary—vocals (2, 4, 5)
Regina McCrary—vocals (2, 4, 5, 7, 12)
Jim Lauderdale—vocals (2)
Emmylou Harris—vocals (3, 13)
Julie Miller—vocals (6)
Mike Farris—vocals (7, 12)
Raul Malo—vocals (9)
Shawn Colvin—vocals (13)
I don't much like gospel music, but I love Patty Griffin, so I thought Downtown Church, touted as Patty's gospel album and described by her as a faith exploration album, would be a gamble. One definitely worth taking, as it turns out. It's a beautiful album, gospel-styled, yes, but decidedly blended with folk, in the way of "Standing" from Impossible Dream, or even "Love Throw a Line" from that same album. The two originals fit in so well with the rest of the songs that I often forget which ones they are ("Little Fire" and "Coming Home to Me".) I have mixed feelings about the Spanish-language duet "Virgen de Guadalupe." Patty's vocals are not up to the standard of the English-language songs (unsurprisingly, for someone singing in a second language). It's also stylistically different, with a Mexican (I think) rather than African American sound. This can be heard as a disruption of the album or as a kind of interlude. The band is strong, as are the guest vocalists, who include Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, and Buddy and Julie Miller. It's a strong collection of songs, but highlights are the rockin', wailin', stompin' "Wade in the Water" and the quiet and affecting closer "All Creatures of Our God and King." (JoAnn Whetsell)
Patty Griffin also appears on the Niagara Niagara soundtrack.
Patty Griffin's recordings appear on several compilation albums. Songs only available on compilations include: "Moon River" (Elizabethtown soundtrack, Vol. 2); "Faded Love" (Remembering Patsy Cline); "Take It Down" (It'll Come to You: The Songs of John Hiatt); "Pa Janvier, laisse moi m'en aller" (Evangeline Made: A Tribute to Cajun Music); and a live version of "Mary" (Concerts for a Landmine Free World).
Patty has also recorded several collaborations with other artists. These songs include: "Up the Mountain" with Solomon Burke on Nashville; "Whole Heap of Little Horses" with the Chieftains on Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions; "Beyond the Blue" with Emmylou Harris on Where the Heart Is soundtrack; "No Do Without" with Matt Keating on Summer Tonight; "No Soy Feliz" with Charanga Cakewalk and Ruben Ramos on Chicago Zen; "Love Be Heard" and "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground" with Willie Nelson and "Mary" with Natalie Maines and Willie Nelson on Songs for Tsunami Relief: From Austin To South Asia; "Flying Too Close to the Ground" with Willie Nelson on Stars & Guitars; "One Big Love" with Emmylou Harris on Red Dirt Girl; Conversation with a Ghost" with Ellis Paul on Live.
Thanks to Kevin Pease and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.
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jeffw @ smoe.org