Servant of Love
A Minor Americana Masterpiece
I’ve got a couple of Patty Griffin’s earlier albums including American Kid which graced may influential end of year Top 10’s in 2013; but I’ve never heard anything that makes my friends go dewy eyed; as they are prone top do when discussing Ms. Griffin’s work.
It took me quite a few plays to get my head around this album; then one simple song unlocked the box of mysteries for me.
The first two songs totally confused me at first; as they are quite Jazzy in structure; with Patty Griffin taking the role of a tortured Chanteuse on the title track Servant of Love as a piano and trumpet accompany her.
This is followed by Gunpowder which sounds as if it was first sung in a Chicago Gin Palace in the Roaring 20’s. It wasn’t; and I was a little disappointed when these tracks weren’t followed by anything of a similar ilk.
Then the moment of revelation happened. It had been a particularly bad week, with bad news after bad news which must have left me feeling very vulnerable as I sat at traffic lights in the rain.
Even though I’d played this album ten or more times; when the chorus of Hurt a Little While filtered out of the speakers I felt tears well up in my eyes and I had to find a parking space to listen to the song in full.
The deep bass notes that resonate like heart beats alongside the stinging guitar licks didn’t help; but the way Patty summons up the words from the pit of her stomach before softly growling “One of these days/I’m gonna laugh again/one of these days/I will smile again,” then repeated it three times had me a quivering wreck.
Obviously not the happiest song you will ever hear; but one of the most personal and intimate, that’s for sure. Now I hear what the others heard, Patty Griffin is a Master-craftsman of a songwriter.
Another stand out track is Rider of Days, which couples a soft Irish melody with a timeless story a love lost.
The rest of the album flirts with other subjects just as deep and dark; with Everything’s Changed and You Never Asked Me being just as brittle and just as heart achingly brilliant in their own ways.
Perhaps my original reservations were because Patty Griffin flits between genres with the greatest of ease; from the Jazz tinged opening songs through the Alt-Country stompers There Isn’t One Way and Snake Charmer, via the singer-songwriter fayre I mentioned earlier and ending with a banjo littered and Bluegrass fuelled Shine a Different Way.
In it’s own way Servant of Love has been, what the cool kids would call a ‘journey’ and what a journey it was for me; and I urge you to take it too.
Released September 11th 2015