There certainly is more attention being paid to Patty Griffin now that she may (or may not) be married to Robert Plant, after serving in his Band of Joy, but that hasn't changed the essence of her sound on her seventh album. Plant does make a guest appearance on a couple of tracks ("Ohio" and "Highway Song"), although each of their meditative qualities hardly suggests American Kid was designed as a sequel to Raising Sand, Plant's acclaimed collaboration with Alison Krauss. Griffin is far grittier than Krauss and most of American Kid is a tribute to her recently deceased father, a World War II veteran who raised seven kids. The album's bittersweet tone is heightened by the sparse, acoustic arrangements, along with stellar lead guitar work by Doug Lancio and Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi All-Stars). But it's Griffin's pipes that impress the most on a moving cover of Lefty Frizzell's "Mom & Dad's Waltz," and her "That Kind of Lonely." If it can be said that Griffin has been toiling in the shadow of Emmylou Harris, then American Kid is the long-overdue moment that puts the full range of her talent on display.
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