Patty Griffin: Patty Griffin review – distinctive songwriter is no longer a slave to love
Singer / Songwriter
“Mama’s worried all the time/ She tells everyone she’s fine/ But she’s hurting bad and worried so/ She don’t want no one to know.” The opening lines in the stately and stark Mama’s Worried, the opening track on American songstress Patty Griffin’s self-titled eighth studio album, reflect what has clearly been a difficult time since 2015’s Servant of Love. A very public long-time relationship with singer Robert Plant ended and later she had to deal with breast cancer. These two events are touched on in her usual oblique manner, but so, through her characters, are issues of power, racism, death, identity, migration, memory and the mysteries of the natural world. It is an intense, frequently beautiful, often challenging album that builds on her strengths as a singular singer-songwriter in, respectively, the folk, gospel and Americana idioms and as a resilient character never afraid of her own voice. And what a distinctive voice. Whether it is the New Orleans sassiness of Hourglass, or the intimate conversation of Had A Good Reason, or any of the other 11 often stripped-back tracks, she never sounds other than a woman on a mission to find meaning and value, to make sense of the hand she has been dealt.