Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Folk, Pop
Some of America's finest female singer/songwriters are trying to find a place between country music, folk music, and pop where they can make their literary lyrics felt without allowing the music to fall into predictable pa... more »
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Some of America's finest female singer/songwriters are trying to find a place between country music, folk music, and pop where they can make their literary lyrics felt without allowing the music to fall into predictable patterns. A new milestone in this ongoing quest is Patty Larkin's 1997 album, Perishable Fruit. Larkin, who was a Celtic and jazz guitarist before hitting the folk-coffeehouse circuit, steps into the producer's slot for the first time on this, her seventh solo project. To avoid the temptation of repeating herself, she set herself a challenge--she would make the entire album only with voice and stringed instruments, no drums or keyboards. That doesn't mean there's no percussion on the recording, for Larkin invited her favorite musicians into her home studio on Cape Cod and encouraged them to bang on their basses, dulcimers, lap-steel guitars, cellos, e-bow guitars, and mandolins to reinforce the beat. The result is an unusual soundscape where all the percussion arrives with a twang, and where delicate acoustic arpeggios are set against sustained electric-guitar drones. The presence of so many stringed-instrument parts creates a big space, but the absence of keyboard chords and reverberating drums also opens up a lot of room within that space. Larkin takes advantage of this room to sing in a whispery, intimate voice about a woman who feels suffocated by old houses, old stories, old fears, old lovers, old arguments, and old music and wants to hit the road, read a new book, get out of the car, take a deep breath, let go of the mace, and pick up a red accordion. Larkin has a way with words, whether describing the narrow choices imposed by poverty ("You don't say no with an empty belly and a barbed-wire bonnet on a wolf hangin' at your door") or love gone wrong ("I saw you as you drove away, ... you checked yourself in the rearview mirror"). But it's her ability to match these words with a new kind of country/folk/pop/chamber music that makes this album so special. When Larkin sings of drowning in commitments and restrictions on "Coming Up for Air," the arrangement has a thick, underwater drowsiness, but when she declares on the chorus she's "coming up for air, rising to a very new somewhere," the melody breaks free and shines like a fish leaping in the sun. --Geoffrey Himes
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Pay attention to the moon rising behind you...
email@example.com | New York, NY | 11/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're interested in what I think of Patty Larkin as a musician in general, go check out my review on her "Angels Running" page from September '99. Go ahead. I'll wait.Back? Good. Here's the thing about "Perishable Fruit." It was an experiment -- all the percussion is done with stringed instruments, so think guitar slapping and you're halfway there. Except that this is Patty Larkin, and she manages to evoke bongos, marimbas, different and varying multiethnic-influenced sounds with her array of stringed instruments, and it all works. This is a pulsating, catchy, fascinating album, but even beyond that, it has some of Larkin's most intelligent and moving lyrics. This new percussion sound reaches its height with "Pablo Neruda," a spare, slappy, plunky coconut-rattling island-influenced narrative. It's also effective on "Wolf at the Door" -- a response to the spoiled cult of chick singers (I read somewhere it was addressed to Joan Jett, but that's unsubstantiated...so far) who "hang their sweaty little black leather dresses on her guitar." "Wolf" is a rocker in grand Larkin tradition, with a bit more harshness than some of her previous rock-influenced efforts, and a bit more depth. But these spare, unencumbered sounds also support some truly moving lyrics and stories. "Rear View Mirror" is one of the saddest songs ever written; in six and a half minutes it tells the story of being alone with your soul in a soullless world where everyone's got their own agendas. She opens with: "I saw you / I saw you as you drove away. You checked yourself / you checked yourself in the rear view mirror / and I thought / I thought that you were looking at me..."The story in "Brazil" is equally enthralling, reminiscent of relationship stories in Patty's earlier work. "The Road" is a musician's confessional; "Heart" is a smart woman's. Amazon's review is right on: this is like a fish in the sun, but it's also like coconut drinks on the beach, a bronzed native playing the bongos...this is Patty Larkin in Boston in the winter reminding you about coconut drinks and fish and a red accordian, playing like a native on the bongos with nothing but her guitar.I've got every Patty Larkin album and I love 'em all. PERISHABLE FRUIT stands out because of this, from "Red Accordian":"Pay attention to the moon rising behind you. / Look at life like a tragedy and it'll blind you. / I'll make a fool of myself, maybe that will remind you how.""
Needs more than 5 stars... * * * * * * * *
Jennifer Wiggins | 12/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sitting here working, in lower upstate eating Jumbo shrimp and other oxymorons. At a low energy point I started this CD and transported back to a live concert, we caught Patty at a local college.
It was totally phaser-on-overload at first note (I play some guitar, and fell not only in love with her flawless technique and humorous-serious-silly stage presence and Breattttthhhhy voice, but also her unusual garb (more on that never).
I here testify, if you love guitar work with a thoughful mind, and lyrics that cut to the yeasty center of our existential gumbo, hold the MSG, then BUY THIS! BUY THIS! BUY BUY THIS THIS!
Patty, thanks for the autograph and who the hell is the guy expression when I asked about life.
---- Middle aged system programmer in De Nile. ----"
firstname.lastname@example.org | 05/14/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Patty Larkin is the poster person for the unjustly neglected folk-oriented singer songwriter. Album after album she excels in every aspect of her recordings -- songwriting, clever lyrics, rich, flexible voice, and stunnning guitar work. This is another fine effort with songs that cling in the mind. Everything rings true except Jane Siberry's bizarre, spaced-out backing vocals on "Coming Up for Air," and that sounds more like an experiment that didn't work than a major mistake. You will listen many times to this CD."