Downtown Church - the unified discussion thread

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Postby elcorazon » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:46 am

Add me to the list of underwhelmed listeners. I guess my general view is that all of it is nice, pleasant even. Some of it I like a lot, but none of it wows me. This is the first Patty record where that is the case. On every other release, there were moments of transcendence. I have no specific complaints, just none of it hits me like the other albums have.

It's not just the issue of covers vs. originals, although that may feed into it a bit. I was among the few who felt that Mil Besos and Tomorrow Night were among the best songs Patty's ever recorded. Absolutely adore them and feel they are incredible representations of what Patty is capable of. None of the songs on the new one made me feel that way.

I'm warming up to some of the tracks that fell flatter initially, but none of that is causing me to really find it all that compelling.

Glad Patty did the record. Hope it increases her audience and helps others to find the rest of her catalog, but I doubt it will ever become a staple in my collection in the same way 1,000 Kisses and Children Running Through are (those are my 2 favorites). Nor will it be as oft-played as Flaming Red, Silver Bell, Living With Ghosts or Impossible Dream.

More importantly, when's she coming back to Chicago?
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Postby marybeth » Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:44 pm

Oh ye of little faith....! Give the album a chance. :wink:
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Dowtown Church -- unified discussion thread

Postby jmp31 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:13 pm

I'm remembering the Tift Merritt interview that Russell excerpted to go along with snippets of DC on PattyCentral, when Patty said she expected some people would find her doing a gospel album a bit scary, perhaps because gospel music is seen by some as being owned by right wing evangelists. I'm sensing some of that unease in the reactions of some of us on this board.
Speaking for my heathenish self - the offspring of a lapsed Catholic father and a Unitarian mother who considers herself to be a lapsed Unitarian - but who has long enjoyed gospel music for the sheer joy and intensity of the genre, I think Downtown Church is right up there with the best of Patty's efforts. Her singing is incredibly powerful but also nuanced as called for by the music and the lyrics; the variety of the selections is excellent, and the backing musicians are terrific.
I do share the quibbles about the mid-section of Coming Home to Me, where some of Julie's contributions are puzzling, confusing.. Jane
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Re: Dowtown Church -- unified discussion thread

Postby Arlene » Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:05 pm

jmp31 wrote:I'm remembering the Tift Merritt interview that Russell excerpted to go along with snippets of DC on PattyCentral, when Patty said she expected some people would find her doing a gospel album a bit scary, perhaps because gospel music is seen by some as being owned by right wing evangelists. I'm sensing some of that unease in the reactions of some of us on this board.


Speaking as someone who considers myself a leftist, and who doesn't love Downtown Church as much as Patty's other albums, I strongly disagree. In my case, my view of DC has nothing to do with seeing gospel music as being owned by right wing evangelists. Just as I don't think the right wing has a monopoly on patriotism, I don't think it has a monopoly on gospel music, or religious music, or spiritual music, or ANY form of music.

First off, I don't associate gospel music with right wing evangelists-- Mavis Staples and her family marched with Dr. Martin Luther King; Bernice Johnson Reagan and Sweet Honey in the Rock performed at countless anti-war marches and benefits; and I first heard The Fairfield Four at an anti-death penalty rally headlined by Steve Earle.

Second, albums with religious themes are some of my favorites. For example, Emmylou Harris's Angel Band, which consists exclusively of spiritual music, (albeit in a more "folky" version than most of the songs on DC), is one of my half dozen desert island discs. Similarly, I also love the music of Buddy and Julie Miller, Gillian Welch, and Kate and Anna McGarrigle, all of whom are well known for writing and singing songs with overtly Christian references.

Can't speak for everybody, but my problems with Downtown Church have absolutely nothing to do with associating gospel music with right-wing evangelists.
Last edited by Arlene on Sat Jan 23, 2010 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Browncoat » Fri Jan 22, 2010 4:17 pm

I agree, Arlene. And in fact, some of the numbers that I like most on this record are the most obviously religious. And I, too, like a lot of other music that is overtly Christian.

My biggest problem with the record, though, is that I just can't connect with a number of the songs. As fun and sonically pleasing as several of the numbers are, I just don't feel any emotional pull from them. There are obviously some big exceptions to this, notably Patty's originals, as well as "If I Had My Way."

One of Patty's most admirable traits as a musicians is her willingness to take risks and try new things - the obvious example being the jump from Living With Ghosts to Flaming Red. But personally, unlike her other risks, this is one experiment that I hope she doesn't try again.
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Postby Kelsea » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:01 pm

Very well said Arlene. It’s just my view, but I rarely equate gospel with right wing evangelists. I would have noticed Pat Roberts at church lol. Anyways I think folk and religion have a long history together, as Arlene kinda pointed out. I don’t envision most people’s issues with DC being a result of the religious element. I can understand the comment, but I don’t think that’s the case for most Patty fans, at least here. I could understand a little more if DC was using songs on say https://www.icanonlyimaginecd.com/flare/next. To me that would be another ballgame. Of course that’s probably my own little bias coming to light lol. I don’t see the song choice on DC as preachy, pushy or converty (to make up a word). If it had been then maybe I could see the religion aspect being more of a source of unease. To be honest I really don’t even think it’s all that religious of an album. I don’t even listen to gospel for the religious side, its more the enjoyment of the genre. I would also like to clarify that I didn’t mean to imply the religious overtones in DC were why anyone here might not like the album.
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Postby Arlene » Sat Jan 23, 2010 10:30 am

Kelsea wrote:I think folk and religion have a long history together.

Indeed they do, and I was going to mention that Amazing Grace, Oh Mary Don't You Weep and Jacob's Ladder have been staples at Pete Seeger concerts for years, and he's certainly no right-wing evangelical, but I didn't want to belabor my point.

Jane, I understand your view (and Patty's point which you were echoing) but I don't agree that it applies to most people on this board who have some reservations about DC.
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Postby Russell » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:37 pm

I just noticed that Tasha French, who made a brief appearance on this board last January to tell us about the DC recording session (see here) and provided those awesome photos (see here), is among those Patty "wishes to thank" in the DC liner notes. You may also recall that Tasha was involved in various activities relating to assistance for homeless folks. It turns out DC "is dedicated to the homeless men and women of Nashville, Tennessee, and to those committed to helping them and bringing some comfort. May they find peace and continued strength and courage". I guess that's something to think about as we listen to "Little Fire", which just happened to start playing while I was typing that quote. Give it a try, I think you'll see what I mean. Actually, it seems to give a special perspective to the whole album - well, at least it does for me.
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Postby Turk » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:01 pm

Russell wrote:I just noticed that Tasha French, who made a brief appearance on this board last January to tell us about the DC recording session (see here) and provided those awesome photos (see here), is among those Patty "wishes to thank" in the DC liner notes. You may also recall that Tasha was involved in various activities relating to assistance for homeless folks. It turns out DC "is dedicated to the homeless men and women of Nashville, Tennessee, and to those committed to helping them and bringing some comfort. May they find peace and continued strength and courage". I guess that's something to think about as we listen to "Little Fire", which just happened to start playing while I was typing that quote. Give it a try, I think you'll see what I mean. Actually, it seems to give a special perspective to the whole album - well, at least it does for me.

I remember Tasha's posts about that session.

And the homeless and Little Fire connection makes perfect sense now.
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Postby Little_Kites » Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:36 pm

^ I do as well! And I can totally see the connection as well! Good stuff!

Have you all seen the facebook page apparently there will be a live performance and chat via facebook on the 27th of January 7pm CST (central standard time) time. http://www.facebook.com/PattyGriffin

Also what is that song at the end? Thanks

oooh sorry I didn't realize there was a post about the live chat/performance in the tour thread, woops. Anyway I think thats the link for it though...
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Postby Turk » Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:57 pm

Little_Kites wrote:^ I do as well! And I can totally see the connection as well! Good stuff!

Have you all seen the facebook page apparently there will be a live performance and chat via facebook on the 27th of January 7pm CST (central standard time) time. http://www.facebook.com/PattyGriffin

Also what is that song at the end? Thanks

The Strange Man is the last song, I think.

Great video!
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Postby Browncoat » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:17 am

Heads up to all other Canadians...

It seems as though Downtown Church won't be released until February 9th, according to Amazon.ca, HMV.ca, and the fact that there's no pre-order page on iTunes.

Grumble.
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Postby Arlene » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:16 pm

It's sort of a minor quibble but IMHO, there are two main reasons to buy a CD rather than download the album tracks from iTunes or some other internet service: (1) to get the song lyrics, and (2) to see which musicians play which instruments on each song.

Guess what two things are missing from the Downtown Church CD packaging?... (And also, plastic jewell cases are so terrible for the environment....)

Again, minor quibbles but...
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Downtown Church - unified ....

Postby jmp31 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:36 pm

Arlene, have you seen the CD? And there are no lyrics - not even for the Patty-written tracks? And no listing of musicians for each track?

That's not good. I was really looking forward to the liner notes and all the information one usually expects to find. I was also hoping that there would be photos of the musicians as well as Patty.
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Postby keith from ny » Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:20 pm

Russell wrote:Although I think the overdub of Julie Miller in "Coming Home to Me" doesn't quite work for me (it seems Buddy may have been trying do what worked so incredibly well with the reversal of roles of Patty and Julie in Julie's "Don't Say Goodbye" and "I Still Cry")...
.

I just have to go on record as saying that I think Julie's contribution to this song (both her inflection and the way the harmony line combines with Patty's vocal part) is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.
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