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Cold, no cold, Griffin sounds wonderful

Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles, October 17, 2023

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Patty Griffin may have had a cold (the first one she's had in seven years, she said), but that couldn't stop her from being a trooper and also sounding fantastic. Griffin's music leans toward the folkish side of the stylistic spectrum, but she also has a whole lot of vocal power in that voice of hers. Cold or no cold, Griffin was wonderful tonight.

Griffin mostly accompanied herself on acoustic guitar, but also sat at piano for a few songs. She was ably assisted by brilliant guitarist, David Pulkingham, who added a wide range of fantastic guitar fills. It was only two musicians on stage, but it felt and often sounded like a full band. Adding to the concert's intimacy, this was a rare seated show at the Teragram ballroom. This arrangement created a homey atmosphere that was a little like Santa Monica's McCabes – only a little bigger.

Griffin opened with "What I Remember," which she sang with a distinctly jazz vocal tone, and closed with the unreleased "Words," which she said would appear on an upcoming album. In between, Griffin spoke often between songs, telling memorable stories. For instance, she talked of how she struggled through a recent heatwave in her adopted hometown of Austin where she probably spent a little too much time watching TV programs about UFOs.

Although much of the music performed tonight was quiet and reserved, Griffin upped the volume considerably for the defiant "No Bad News." Griffen's songs have so much undeniable sincerity, one couldn't help but pay rapt attention throughout. She doesn't sing silly love songs. She doesn't sing anything silly, in fact.

Even so, she never came off as a Debbie Downer, either. She introduced one called "250,000" as lyric about the moon, as space has always fascinated her. But it's actually a metaphor for the great distances (both physically and emotionally) oftentimes found between family members. That sort of high intelligence runs through everything Griffin writes.

In the end, no mere head cold could stop this Griffin concert from being one special night.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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