Austin native Patty Griffin has had me as a fan for quite a few years now; her 2002 album, 1000 Kisses, will always rank among my all-time favorites. Her songs are straightforward: simple, lovely folk ballads, understated and a little sad. American Kid follows suit admirably, sticking to the stripped-down, beguiling melodies that make Griffin’s songwriting so moving. Her voice, the centerpiece of the album, is haunting as hell, whether barely there, like on the opening track, or on “That Kind of Lonely,” where she belts out notes impossibly strong for such a petite person.
With these songs, Griffin carries the banner of former eras passed down to her from the likes of Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris. And with each sweet, soulful chord on American Kid, my tarnished hope for modern music is restored.