Nightlife

Impossible Dream

by Ryan Lindsey
Contributor
Tuesday Apr 20, 2004
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Patty Griffin’s new album, Impossible Dream, is melancholy and beautiful. The album’s tone is serious – it’s not going to make you want to dance; it’s going to make you think. Griffin’s talent is that rare combination of lulling voice and talented writing that forms truly inspired music; through it she offers an emotional accounting of loneliness, sadness, and strength.

The first song to catch my attention, “Kite” (track no. 3), is hopeful but longing, bringing in her lovely combination of voice and words a song whose dreamlike simplicity doesn’t make it simplistic. This song’s theme – a combination of the inherent innocence of kite flying and the intrinsic wistfulness of dreaming – makes it one of the more beautiful songs I’ve heard in some time.

In “Rowing Song” (track no. 7) the sadness is a bit hard to swallow. On her website, Griffin states, “…we have to start paying attention to each other and the planet." This song, more pointedly than the others, exudes her sense of frustration with the current state of affairs:

As I row, row, row
Going so slow, slow, slow
Just down below me is the old sea
Just down below me is the old sea

Nobody knows, knows, knows
so many things, things so
so out of range
sometimes so strange
sometimes so sweet
sometimes so lonely

The further I go
more letters from home never arrive.
And I’m alone all of the way
all of the way alone and alive.

Carrying on in a similar theme, “Don’t Come Easy,” is something like a fight song for a team whose mascot has been stolen. It’s not difficult to sense Griffin’s political frustration:

I don’t know nothing except change will come
Year after year what we do is undone
Time keeps moving from a crawl to a run
I wonder if we’re gonna ever get home
You’re out there walking down a highway
And all of the signs got blown away
Sometimes you wonder if you’re walking in the wrong direction

Impossible Dream exhibits Griffin’s gifts well, moving from her sassy bluegrass leaning with the opening track, “Love Throws a Line” to her full-bodied soulful gospel in “Standing” (track no. 4). All of these songs are beautiful and moving in their own ways; each is worth hearing. And more than that, each is worth understanding and heeding.

by Patty Griffin

Release Date: April 20
Label: Ato Records

Ryan Lindsey writes about music, ballet, and politics for EDGE. Random musings can be found at nestofninnies.com.

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