Patty Griffin suffers from an identity crisis. Just when everyone thinks they've pegged her as a folk or country musician, she rebels with rock and roll or the blues; and no matter how tear-jerking or empowering of a song she pens, she's not known for making it her own, as shown by others' more successful covers. The cover art for her last release, Impossible Dream, inconveniently portrayed the down-home griever as a pop tart.
But on the Austin-based singer/songwriter's new one, Children Running Through, that's all in the past, as Griffin comes into her own. The CD cover shows Griffin, a beautiful woman, resting against a pickup as beat up as her soul. It's not all superficial. The musical genres are all-encompassing instead of exclusive, their nuances sparked in part by producer Mike McCarthy, who has indie-rock cred working with the likes of Spoon and ...Trail of Dead.
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Early on, the tracks volley between serene and agitated, with vocals that span three generations of like-minded songstresses. Opener "You'll Remember" sounds like mature Norah Jones. "Stay on the Ride" sounds Bonnie Raitt-ish, which is all the more convincing thanks to Tower of Power horns. And "Trapeze," with Griffin harmonizing with Emmylou Harris on lines such as "Some people don't care if they live or they die," translates into Dolly Parton without yee-haw posturing.