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Patty Larkin
Red = Luck

Review By Steven Stone
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Patty Larkin Red = Luck

CD Number: Vanguard Records 816-2


  Is Patty Larkin one of the most underrated musical artists on earth? If her tenth release Red = Luck is any indication, the answer is definitely yes. Even though her songs have been covered by the likes of Holly Cole and Cher, her own performances have graced soundtracks such as "Evolution" and "Random Hearts," and she has been given an honorary doctorate by the Berklee College of Music, Patty Larkin is still not exactly a household word. Perhaps Red = Luck will help remedy this situation.

Very few musicians make it to ten releases, and by that time many that have settled into standard musical formulas, but not Larkin. Red = Luck displays the kind of creative risk-taking rare among mature recording artists. Larkin’s musical adventures shouldn't be confused with forced trendiness or artificial hipness. Instead her use of sonic effects and studio techniques are all in the service of her songs. Her processed vocals on "Louder" add another layer of meaning and complexity to her lyrics. But even on the most heavily produced selections such as "Inside Your Painting" the music still has a natural acoustic ambience that keeps the overall feeling intimate. Her co-producers Bette Warner and Ben Wittman put together a fine roster of backing musicians including Richard Gates and Mike Rivard on bass, Gideon Freudman on cello, Duke Levine and Jeff Lang on guitars, and Jonatha Brooke, Willy Porter, Merrie Amsterberg, and Jennifer Kimball on background vocals. But even with all this musical assistance Patty still contributes 6 and 12 string acoustic guitar, electric guitar, lapsteel, mandolin, bouzouki, and accordion parts in addition to writing every song on the disc.

Perhaps the breadth of Larkin's musical talent is what prevents her from being a big pop star. Not just a fine songwriter or virtuoso musician, she combines her talents to create music that demands your attention with great melodies and lyrics that mean something. No simple images or easy pigeonholes define Larkin’s music, which is made by an adult, for other adults. If you are ready for some seriously special music, Patty Larkin is ready for you.




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