Patty Griffin, "American Kid" (New West)
Patty Griffin bookends her seventh album, "American Kid," with two songs about the death of her father, opening with the wistful, spiritually openhearted "Go Wherever You Wanna Go." The song features a series of poetic images conveying to a loved one that it's OK to let go and pass to the other side. She closes with the sweetly mournful "Gonna Miss You When You're Gone," which blends old jazz chords set against a background of haunting, sustained keyboards.
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Typical of Griffin's artful and searching work, she eschews autobiographical narratives for oblique references to nature and the joy, pain and transcendent values of everyday life, all delivered with her powerful, subtly emotional voice. "American Kid" is unlike Griffin's past work. She's not prone to repeating herself, and this is another gem in her catalog.
She's backed for much of the album by Cody and Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars, a group that opened for Robert Plant's Band of Joy that included Griffin as a member. Plant's taste for modal folk music can be heard on "Ohio," on which he harmonizes with her. But "American Kid" is wholly Griffin's -- a poignant collection that probes personal and spiritual issues about the most important aspects of life.