Patty Larkin

Regrooving the Dream

by Thomas Swiss

 

Moody and intelligent, Patty Larkin’s new CD moves forward in a jazzy way that recalls the structures of the best albums by Rickie Lee Jones, Bonnie Raitt, and Ani DiFranco.

Carefully organized, Regrooving the Dream nevertheless feels improvisational, and while largely introspective, Larkin’s groove is various and typically upbeat. Soulful one moment, blues-like the next, there is a range of musical styles that manage to feel all of a piece—a very dreamy piece that gets under your skin quickly.

cover art

Patty Larkin

Regrooving the Dream

(Vanguard)

Larkin has recorded a half-dozen albums in 15 years, and her work has been covered by such artists as Jane Siberry and Cher (!). In addition to singing, Larkin plays acoustic, electric and slide guitar, and she has been a guest on records by Bruce Cockburn, Roseanne Cash, and others.

While nearly every cut is strong, my favorites include the story-telling pieces such as “Burnin’ Down,” “Random Play,” and “Poetry of Lies.” In these songs and others, Larkin’s keen sense of observation, her transforming metaphors, and her understated emotional writing stand out in remarkable ways.

This may well be her best album—the quality of the song-writing, the detailed instrumentation—in what continues to be undervalued career. Boston-based, Larkin is better known, for sure, in the New England area, though she is touring in support of Regrooving the Dream and will be in cities like Des Moines—my hometown—in the coming year. Be sure to check her out.

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