Patty Griffin has already made a lot of good music in her career, though I have never become a real big fan. I did enjoy seeing her live when she was touring for her ’02 release 1000 Kisses. With Children Running Through, I think Griffin has created the most fully realized album of her career.
I have always tried hard on my blog not to gush about music, especially since my perception of albums tends to change drastically with time and more listens. Nevertheless, I have given this over twenty spins and think this is something special.
Griffin seamlessly slides from mellow or mid-tempo songs to rockier songs without worrying about transitioning or creating a certain mood. This creates a jarring and incredibly satisfying ride of emotions. She begins with the quiet You’ll Remember as she croons, “Maybe one day along the way/ You'll remember me on this island/ Smiling at you how I used to/ Maybe one day, you'll remember.”
Griffin does not do as much storytelling on this album as she usually does, but the writing is excellent. Jangly guitars highlight track two, Stay on the Ride, as she tells the story of a bus ride. The masterpiece of the album is Trapeze, a duet with the amazing Emmylou Harris. Griffin writes, “She started with us on the back of a horse/ Just seventeen and already divorced/ She took to the air with the greatest of ease/ Like she was born to be gliding on the old trapeze/ Some people don't care if they live or they die/ Some people want to know what it feels like to fly/ Gather their courage and they give it a try.”
This is a confident outing with absolutely no soft spots at all. There are many gospel tinged songs here along with Griffin’s characteristic folk rock sound. Rarely is a performer this confident in every song and every style that is attempted. My only very minor complaint is that the album loses a bit of its intensity and swagger near the end, but there are no filler songs on Children Running Through and the mellower tunes are just as powerful as the others. This is for fans of Over the Rhine, Nickel Creek or West by Lucinda Williams. I’ll be extremely surprised if this is not my favorite album at the end of 2007.
3.75 out of 4.00 on the Vin Swanson Scale
Listening to this makes you feel like those rare, brief moments when you feel extra confident and maybe just a little cocky.