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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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For the first time since 2007's "Children Running Through" Patty Griffin has recorded an album of original material and its quiet wonder. "American Kid" is an album of songs largely dedicated to her extraordinary father, a former Second World War veteran, Trappist monk and parent of seven. It is a deeply personal statement which in turn makes for one of her finest and most introspective records. Her voice throughout is in turns sweet, haunting and pristine and she is backed by a variety of premier division musicians not least North Mississippi Allstars/brothers Cody and Luther Dickinson and fellow Band of Joy member Robert Plant. Indeed there has been much online speculation about whether Percy and Patty are married or not? Griffin has recently dismissed this but they are clearly soul mates and Plant sings backing on three of the album tracks.

Griffin bookends this album with two songs about the death of her father that are raw yet considerably lifted by her searing vocals. The album commences with open-hearted "Go Wherever You Wanna Go." infused with lines which reference her fathers life and a nod to his journey to a higher spiritual plane. It is a genuinely lovely feast but is easily matched by the closing sweet melancholy of the bluesy "Gonna Miss You When You're Gone". Here she wears a broken heart on her sleeve and we respond by trying to hide that large lump in our throats. In between Griffin shows that she is every bit the equal of the great country singers like Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris with some stellar songs. One of these is a superb duet with Plant on "Ohio" a haunting alt country lament with an excellent accompanying video. The album's only cover, Lefty Frizzell's classic "Mom and Dad's Waltz," is very well executed with a sparse sounding guitar and mandolin accompanying Griffin's tremendous singing. More hard edged support comes from the Dickenson brothers on the more rocking blues of "Don't let me die in Florida" where Griffin shows her versatility. In the midst of all this we get effortless Griffin acoustic ballads like the aching "Wild old dog", the slow country of "Mom and Dad's Waltz" and the deeply sad piano lament "Irish Boy" which is just plain wonderful. The mood is lifted by the old time jaunty skiffle of "Get Ready Marie" but overall the ambience is sombre and often cathartic. Some songs like the hurting "That kind of lonely" and "Not a bad man" about her fathers enlistment are almost too sad to endure.

"American Kid" is a deeply personal record and feels like a form of musical exorcism for Griffin. It represents a mature statement by a superb musician coming to terms with the big themes of life, its comings, it's everyday pleasures plus its painful departures. Throughout she proves she has one of the best and most emotive singing voices in modern music and now sits right bang smack on the top of the pinnacle of Americana music. Honestly this reviewer can't recommend "American Kid" highly enough.
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on 26 August 2013
I love Patty and have got 4 earlier albums. This album got quite a bit of hype so having been disappointed at first play, I have played it a number of times since then and still have yet to be convinced. I don't think the songs are as strong as Flaming Red or Ghosts or even Downtown Church (yes, I know!) and I don't even think she's in such good voice but I'm going to persevere, just 'cos she's such a talent
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on 14 November 2013
Patty Griffin is an extraordinary talent. The voice that errupts from her small form is outstanding and a thing of beauty. This album is her most personal as it is inspired from the passing of her father and the writing that Patty put into the songs helped her cope with the loss of her father. I have enjoyed the album the more I listen to it, maybe hearing a lyric or a piece of music I had missed on my previous listen. The album is definately a grower. I think the song Ohio is just a masterpiece and Robert Plants vocals help bring it to another level. Wild Old Dog is one of the saddest songs I've ever heard. For me, Patty Griffen definately doesnt get the recognition that she deserves, she is a very rare talent in a music industry that is just about making a quick bit of money nowadays. Buy this album and her back catalouge. You'll be glad you did.
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on 31 July 2013
There are few singers who can get to the heart of a lyric like Patty Griffin. Her emotive and beautiful voice is something else. 'American Kid' is possibly her best album to date (although '1000 Kisses' is a mighty contender for that title!). In part a homage to her father this wonderful record is at turns heartbreaking and uplifting. For those who have not tuned in to Patty Griffin this is a brilliant place to discover an artist who is simply incapable of making a bad record. For existing fans the question has to be asked, why are you bothering to read this review when you could be listening to this marvellous record???
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on 29 October 2013
As a big fan of Lucinda Williams and Eliza Gilkyson I have to say this young lady is right up with the best of them. Reading between the lines she has had a hard time with labels and/or management but has come through on the rails to make one of the 3 best albums I have heard in the last year. DON'T MISS THIS.
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on 1 September 2013
This album has it all, ballads & gritty Americana, backed by the Dickinson's, this is stuck on play at the moment and still as fresh as the 1st time, hurry up and tour the UK again Patty as I will be putting my money down.
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on 19 May 2013
Patty Griffin is one of the most wonderful songwriters ever - and I can't believe how lucky we are to have an album from Patty AND a new album (Massachusetts) from another of the world's greatest ever singer-songwriters, Lori McKenna, within a few weeks of each other. American Kid just gets stronger and stronger with each listen, especially as the more layered production gives the listener more to take on board. Patty's music meanders beautifully across genres - folk, county, blues, gospel, rock/pop, and each song has something to say. A must buy....
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on 12 September 2014
What can I say that a Patty Griffin fan don't already know?
I just love her new record.
She's for real folks, she's the ral thing.
Deal with it or let her be.
Thanks Patty for sharing.
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VINE VOICEon 17 May 2013
From the title I'm guessing the inspiration for this album as the artist's childhood, although it's hardly entirely autobiographical . Nine of the 12 tracks are Griffin credited, with two giving Plant a co-credit. The only non original helps bring the rating down a star. The cd I was playing before I put this one on was Willie Nelson's twofor-Red headed stranger/To Lefty from Willie-I bought it for the former title and wasn't very familiar with the Lefty Frizell songs on the latter so was expecting the worst when the first track was pure cornball country in the form of "Mum and Dad's waltz"- with lyrics such as "Cause I'm happy and I pray every day for mom and pappy". It was pap like this that put me off country music for decades before being tempted back in by the likes of Steve Earle, Buddy Miller and indeed Patty Griffin. Imagine the bad karma then when the same song cropped up smack in the middle of this one. I guess it must be a favourite of Patty's, or maybe is included for her late father whom the cd is dedicated to. Unfortunately it's very much a schmaltz on the landscape, as it was on the Nelson cd (which improved markedly on subsequent tracks).
Most of the rest of the cd is very fine indeed. I was a little disappointed that the Dickinson brothers weren't allowed to stretch out a bit more but was equally relieved that Robert Plant largely stays in the background. That said the 2 co-written tracks are considerably weaker than most of the Griffin originals.
The production is agreeably sparse throughout, with the instrumentation dominated by guitars, and mandolin . (There is something called an omnichord on the final track which I could have done without.) Nearly all of the tracks are rather plain ballads, the exception is the excellent "Don't let me die in Florida", which has an edgy business that could have put it on Buddy Miller album.
Overall a fine entry into the collection from a fine artist but I'm still left feeling a little short changed.
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on 22 November 2013
Another great album from Patty Smith her voice just makes the hairs on my neck stand proud what a tallent dont think she's made a bad album to date ? Every one a gem !
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