Patty Griffin Children Running Through

In a recording career now spanning a decade, this American songstress has earned serious critical praise and peer respect. Given her talent level, it’s perhaps surprising she hasn’t scaled the commercial heights of, say, a Bonnie Raitt or Indigo Girls. Griffin’s songwriting and vocal skills are nicely showcased once again on Children Running Through. Her voice is a strong and malleable instrument that’s capable of both a bluesy Raitt-like delivery ("Stay On The Ride” and "Getting Ready”) and folk-oriented restraint on her ballads. Griffin co-produced with Mike McCarthy, and her A-list players include Doug Lancio, J.D. Foster and Ian McLagan (the Faces). The presence of the sublime Emmylou Harris on harmony vocals is always a treat, with their combined work on carnival ode "Trapeze” providing an album highlight. The one flaw here is the occasionally excessive use of strings, as on "Burgundy Shoes” and album closer "Crying Over.” The latter strains too hard to be anthemic, when the power of Griffin’s voice and pen is best served by subtlety and simplicity, as exemplified by the lovely opening song "You’ll Remember.” (ATO)