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Cantautrice del Maine all'antica, registro alla Rickie Lee Jones e accompagnamento di
sola chitarra, Patty Griffin, ex cameriera di Boston, ha un talento melodico
e un piglio orgoglioso che la elevano al di sopra della media.
Su Living With Ghosts (A&M, 1996), un disco per sola chitarra acustica
e voce, ballate come
Moses, Poor Man's House
sono fin troppo autobiografiche, cantate nel tono tragico di chi ha
davvero vissuto la vita.
Il suo vero talento emerge dalle composizioni piu` agitate, come
Every Little Bit e You Never Get What You Want, in cui Griffin inietta
la morale delle sue esperienze personali e ha modo di strillare la sua
disperazione. La tenera malinconia di Not Alone chiude il disco su una
nota di rassegnato fatalismo.
Flaming Red (A&M, 1998) was supposed to be, instead, a rock'n'roll album,
and Griffin at her most satanic is indeed a Patti Smith, or better still a Hope Nicholls (Fetching Bones), of country music, capable of packing
stomping beat, barrelhouse guitar noise and blazing harmonica into
Flaming Red, and of driving the dissonant, industrial-metal shuffle of Wiggley Fingers with her casual phrasing.
However, the rest of the album is much blander and calmer, ranging from the
haunting romantic ballad Goodbye to the deeply-felt portrait of Christina, from the childish, naive One Big Love (the single) to the subdued recollection of Big Daddy,
from the bluesy and sophisticated Go Now to the piano lullaby Peter Pan.
And the only other edgy moments come with the sudden explosion that rips apart the syncopated, mildly-electronic shuffle Tony and with the guitar distortion and the electronic breeze that storm the :w Blue Sky.
1000 Kisses (ATO, 2002) adds more meditations to her spartan, dejected
canon with just a bit of additional energy.
Impossible Dream (2004) was her most intimate work yet, with a spare
production that emphasized her lyrical vignettes (including the seven-minute
piano ballad Mother of God).
Mike McCarthy's arrangements lifted Children Running Through (2007)
above the fray, finally fulfilling the promises of her grating country-pop-gospel fusion.
The spare You'll Remember, similar to a church hymn,
opens the travelogue on a melancholy note, followed by equally mournful
meditations such as Trapeze (a duet with Emmylou Harris) and the piano-only ballad Someone Else's Tomorrow.
However, elsewhere Griffin expresses herself in a wildly different tone,
roaring in the rowdy garage-rock of Getting Ready,
screaming in the sprightly tex-mex hoedown of No Bad News,
howling in the limping rhythm'n'blues of Stay On The Ride.
She exploits the full power of her voice in the soaring lullabies Burgundy Shoes and Heavenly Day, propelled by piano and strings,