Patty Griffin, Children Running Through

Peter Blackstock

By Peter Blackstock

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Griffin’s most audacious and ambitious album since 1998′s Flaming Red.

Though it opens with the calmly reflective “You'll Remember,” a muted ballad set to bass and brushes, Children Running Through subsequently blooms to become Patty Griffin's most audacious and ambitious album since 1998's Flaming Red. Griffin is a more accomplished and diverse artist now, blending her emotionally charged folk-rock with uplifting gospel and heartfelt piano pieces. Swelling strings rise up in the midsection of many tracks, adding a dramatic flair to such tunes as the anthemic soul shouter “Heavenly Day” and the reaffirming “Up to the Mountain” (subtitled “MLK Song,” though musically the King referred to is Carole, per a melody that recalls the Tapestry staple “Way Over Yonder”). Horns provide the extra push on the rapid-fire anti-war burner “No Bad News” while electric-guitar barbs spike the bridge of the stinging kiss-off “Getting Ready.” “Burgundy Shoes” is an exquisite remembrance of a departed loved one that echoes the graceful mood-sketch “Kite” from her 2004 triumph Impossible Dream. “Someone Else's Tomorrow” is similarly subtle in arrangement, but darker and deeply haunting in timbre and tone. Ultimately Griffin strikes closest to the heart not when she's boldly testifying to the congregation, but when she's confiding in intimate conversation.