Griffin's follow-up to the acoustic, lyric-based material of Living with Ghosts shifts gears so dramatically, it hardly seems like the work of the same artist. In an electric wonderland of dense percussion tracks (played b... more »y Kenny Aronoff) and tricky guitar attacks (handled by producer Jay Joyce), Griffin reveals herself as a muscular rock & roll singer as well as an emotionally vulnerable balladeer. If the Ramones-loud title track seems to be trying too hard to rock and other cuts just sound busy, overwhelming the song with production--the chaotic rant of "Wiggley Fingers," for one--the anthemic pulse of "Tony" and the modern soul of "Christina" are gorgeous and convincing. They're the work of an imagination set free, if not fully grown. --Roy Kasten« less
Griffin's follow-up to the acoustic, lyric-based material of Living with Ghosts shifts gears so dramatically, it hardly seems like the work of the same artist. In an electric wonderland of dense percussion tracks (played by Kenny Aronoff) and tricky guitar attacks (handled by producer Jay Joyce), Griffin reveals herself as a muscular rock & roll singer as well as an emotionally vulnerable balladeer. If the Ramones-loud title track seems to be trying too hard to rock and other cuts just sound busy, overwhelming the song with production--the chaotic rant of "Wiggley Fingers," for one--the anthemic pulse of "Tony" and the modern soul of "Christina" are gorgeous and convincing. They're the work of an imagination set free, if not fully grown. --Roy Kasten
Teresa S. from WINDHAM, ME Reviewed on 12/19/2009...
An Eclectic Little Gem
Billy Herrington | Little Rock, Arkansas United States | 08/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just got through listening to this CD all the way through on a road trip. This is the third time and it gets better with every listening. I had never heard of Patty but saw her on Austin City Limits with Buddy and Julie Miller, Dave Matthews, and Emmylou Harris. Leave it to Emmylou to find hidden diamonds and bring them to somebody's attention. Buddy's "Cruel Moon" and Julie's "Broken Things" are both strong works but of the three, "Flaming Red" is my favorite.Don't even think about buying this if you like a CD where all the songs are in the same musical style. This one gets around with a surprise behind every door - most of them very, very pleasant. Patty has a dynamic, expressive voice with a wide range. She uses it to great effect, sometimes sounding like a little girl (think a more childlike Rickie Lee Jones) and other times rocking with the best of them. I saw where some reviewers thought that the production overwhelmed that voice at times. On the first song, maybe. On the rest, impossible!Styles range all over the place and all of them work. She uses the little girl voice well in "One Big Love", a jewel of a song inviting her boyfriend on a beach romp. It's got a real island sound until you hit the chorus and then it just flat rocks. She shows a lot of insight into the cruelties teenagers inflict on each other in "Tony", a tale about a homosexual kid she ignored in high school who later takes his own life. It's back to rocking on "Change", which describes what a particular woman goes through trying to please an impossible to please man. About the time you think you have her figured out she pulls out "Goodbye". This is an uptempo ballad (a little Nancy Griffith like) that describes missing a departed loved one. It is sung extremely well and she adds an incredible vocal flourish at the end. More ballads to come, right? Not so fast. "Blue Sky" finds her in a strong rock mode again, at times evoking U2 in their most soaring moments. There are even a couple of songs that seem to be inspired by Jimi Hendrix, of all things. Then she throws another curveball with "Go Now". This song would sound right at home in a late hours jazz club but the change in style is handled just fine. The most haunting song on the CD is "Mary", an ode to the mother of Jesus that is a folk song at heart. On this one she uses the lower range of her voice and delivers a vocal that will stick in your mind forever.Through all of these stylistic changes she adds fine song writing from a variety of vantage points and through all of them she seems to come out the other side confident that she knows herself. I never got the feeling that she was just trying on styles to see if they fit - they all seem to fit. Few musicians can get away with that but she succeeds in grand fashion.I see where other reviewers who had heard her first CD (apparently more laid back and acoustic) were shocked to hear "Flaming Red". I had not heard her first CD so had nothing to compare it to. Rest assured it is on my "to buy" list. I would love to see if there is any foundation in it for what followed and look forward to hearing that voice in another setting. I saw another review that called this a "rockabilly rave up". Other than the title song I don't have a clue why.If I could only listen to 10 CDs for the rest of my life, this one and Lucinda Williams' "Car Wheels" would be on that list. Do yourself a favor and check this out. I like just about everything here. If you don't care for one song, just wait. Something is coming along that will stick in your head for a long time. Here's to you Patty. You stick it out there and go for it. You swing for the fences on this one and 99% of the time you knock it out of the park."
Better than "Living With Ghosts"
B. Eisen | The Swamps of Jersey | 11/08/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For all the reviewers who wrote that they loved "Ghosts" and hated "Flaming Red" did not give it a chance. I absolutely fell in love with "Ghosts" after hearing "Every Little Bit" on the radio. That disc has a raw beauty that probably will never be reproduced.When I first put "Red" into my CD player the first 2 songs through me for a loop. Very different with the band. If I wrote a review of that album at that time, I probably would have vented like the others and said that she sold out and what a shame, blah, blah.After a few listens, however, I found the hidden gems. The power of "Tony", the strength of her voice in "Change", the lyrics of "Mary" and "Christina". At this point (after about 1000 listens), I love every song from the power-pop "One Big Love" to the ache of "Peter Pan". People said the "production" of this album hid Patty's voice, but I disagree. "Flaming Red" showcases it and I absolutely love every note. Please buy this disc and discover the wonder, beauty, magic, power, fun and uniqueness of Patty Griffin and "Flaming Red""
Too good to miss
Jon | Los Angeles | 10/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am going to dare to review this disc being someone who discovered Patty Griffin after she already gained a following with her Living with Ghosts CD. For some reason, fans of people like Patty, Ani DiFranco, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, etc, feel they have "discovered" something new and don't want to share it with anyone. So when this artist that they discovered starts getting more popular and taking musical turns and risks, these "old school" fans feel the need to alienate their fabulous wonderful new musician and not give the new material any chance. The old stuff is always the best right? I disagree.Yes, it's true I had never heard of Patty Griffin until Flaming Red came out. If this makes me a less "worthy" fan simply because I did not hear of her first, then so be it. The truth is that I came across the Flaming Red CD at a listening station in a music store and was blown away. If I could be that impressed by 30 second snippets of each song in the middle of a huge music store, I knew that it had to be something special. Flaming Red is very special. To be fair to those people who criticized this CD for not have the "rawness" of her entirely acoustic debut album, I bought Living with Ghosts without hearing a single track. And though I was very impressed by the folky, country-like simplicity of Living with Ghosts, I still have to pick Flaming Red as one of my all time favorite CDs. The beauty of Living with Ghosts originates from her lyrics, simplicity and largely from the power of her voice... I feel that there are times when her voice is almost too empowering for a simple acoustic guitar. On Flaming Red, she has proven that evolution can be beautiful. Although there are some loud, electric sounds, her voice still comes shining through in a blaze of power surrounded by love, anger, heartache, longing, energy and dreams. For those of you who were familiar with Living with Ghosts and were turned off by Flaming Red (possible due to the immediate brashness of the first song, with I believe to be her most audacious and energetic song yet), I suggest you give a few more chances. I suggest you blast "Blue Sky" in your car on your way home from work. I suggest you feel the anger at ever person that has ever made someone feel bad about being gay when you listen to "Tony." I suggest you fall in love every time you hear "One Big Love." I suggest you feel the longing in "Christina" until it brings tears to your eyes.Patty has progressed too much since her last album to let this slip by because it's not as familiar as the last album. If you give it a chance you will re-discover her and feel the same way you felt when you first discovered her. If you are just discovering Patty with the Flaming Red CD, then you may want to have a listen to Living with Ghosts. You'll see exactly what I mean. Country fans may also want to check out the new Martina McBride and Dixie Chicks CDs who do incredible folk-country covers of "Goodbye" and "Let Him Fly" respectively."
A Great Mix
Kevin Fink | Ottawa, KS USA | 08/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you could take the wit of the Indigo Girls, the emotion of Sarah McLachlan, the songwriting ability of Tori Amos, and the raw-ness of Sheryl Crow, and mix it all together, you'd come up with Patty Griffin. She opens with the title track, a rocking little ditty that changes the fairy tale of "The Red Shoes" into a power trip without apologies. "One Big Love" is just a happy-go-lucky tune about love. "Tony," probably the most touching and controversial song on the album, is the story of a gay boy that Griffin went to high school with, was abused and tormented by his classmates, and ultimately killed himself. Griffin swiftly changes from a country ballad ("Goodbye"), to flat-out sexually charged rock & roll ("Wiggley Fingers"), to quiet, thought provoking songs about motherhood and growing up ("Mary" w/Emmylou Harris and "Peter Pan"). Patty Griffin's "Flaming Red" is an album by an artist not afraid to wander, and sometimes get lost in, new territory. And luckily, she takes the listener with her."