Patty Griffin – Servant Of Love

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Patty Griffin
has always been an artist fearlessly, eagerly willing to follow her
muse wherever it may take her, and few artists can bare their souls in
the recording studio with such compelling results. For her ninth studio
album, 2015’s Servant of Love, Griffin
has given herself more creative freedom than ever before, as it’s the
first release from PGM Recordings, her own independent label. While Servant of Love
doesn’t sound like an album she couldn’t have made for one of her
former sponsors, it is a bravely eclectic, often enigmatic work that
doesn’t announce all its attentions at first glance, but allows Griffin
to use her lyrics and voice to communicate a soulful style that’s as
much about tone as the literal message of the verses. As the title
suggests, Servant of Love
is, for the most part, a collection of songs about love, but these are
not love songs per se. Instead, these tunes ponder the mysteries of
attraction (the title song), the downsides of failing relationships
(“Hurt a Little While” and “Good and Gone”), the love of a mother for
her child (“250,000 Miles”), the power of physical attraction (“Snake
Charmer”), and the nexus where love and spirituality meet (“Shine a
Different Way” and “There Isn’t One Way”). The circular patterns of
“250,000 Miles,” “Made of the Sun,” and “Everything’s Changed” suggest
Eastern modalities finding a common ground with American folk and blues,
while Ephraim Owens
trumpet on “Gunpowder” and “Servant of Love” adds an earthy jazz
undertow to the arrangements, which takes this album just outside the
boundaries of rootsy Americana. And though some of the tunes are whisper
quiet while others howl like a honky tonk on Saturday night, Griffin
knows just how hard to hit the material whatever the surroundings, and
her vocals are emotionally intelligent and expressive throughout, while Griffin and producer Craig Ross coax some splendid performances from their session crew. Servant of Love is an album that needs a few spins to be fully appreciated, but it’s as sincere, heartfelt, and artful as anything Griffin
has released to date, and if the form may seem elusive to some
listeners, the content is powerful and satisfying, a reminder of why Patty Griffin is one of our best singer/songwriters.

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