Patty Larkin is often dubbed “a musicians’ musician,” and her creative prowess has earned her a place among top guitarists and songsters. But, while esoteric musical savvy sometimes renders music unlistenable, that’s not the case with Larkin’s 11th release, Watch the Sky.
It’s not an album that grabs you on the first go. In fact, a cursory listen reveals a dozen rather incongruous songs, all unmistakably Larkin, but also bearing echoes of everyone from Paul Simon to Joni Mitchell, Macy Gray to Gillian Welch. Ultimately, it’s this variety that makes the album so charming.
Larkin adroitly wrote, recorded and produced the whole thing in relative solitude (including all instrumentals and vocals), and the resultant one-woman-show is a welcome departure from the hyper-produced pop folk that has become so common. Certainly a few songs, such as “Hallelujah,” are radio-ready and catchy, but others, like the Eastern-influenced “Phone Message” or Ani Difranco-esque “Beautiful,” are just a little too weird ever to be mainstream. That’s a good thing.
With luscious vocals winding sinuously through ethereal dance beats, bouzoukis and reverb-laden steel guitar, this album is full of surprises and risks, most of which work.
Patty Larkin plays the Masquer Theatre Thursday, May 28, at 8 PM. $20/$18 advance.