There’s a different type of love song in contemporary music, particularly in the hip-hop world. For some, the love of objects reigns supreme. Dreams of conspicuous consumption and elite status in song is common.
And then there is old-school love in verse. “Servant of Love,” Patty Griffin’s latest album and first release by her label PGM Recordings, is a stunning collection of eclectic love songs. Griffin doesn’t just explore attraction (“Snake Charmer”) and breakups (“Good and Gone”), she also takes on maternal love (“250,000 Miles”) and love and spirituality (“There Isn’t One Way.”)
Griffin, 51, was compelled to focus on a variety of aspects of love. “All of our longings are rooted in it,” Griffin said. “Love and connection. It’s hard to avoid the subject.”
Griffin’s longtime pal, musician/producer Craig Ross was behind the board for the “Servant of Love” sessions. Ross helped flesh out Griffin’s deep songs. “Craig and I have known each other, worked together and been friends for 20 years,” Griffin said. “He adds more than I can describe. He’s a deep listener and is like family to me. He’s got an ear for the delicate, unpolished and vulnerable and knows how to wait for performances that deliver that. If something is honest it tends to be better. He brings that.”
Griffin nailed that since a shard of honesty is often the key common denominator in art forms which stand the test of time. Griffin’s new batch of passionate, sensual and melancholy music comes from a real place.
It’s a strong follow-up to her bittersweet and dramatic 2013 release “American Kid,” which was written after she learned that her father’s death was imminent. “That project was like working in the mines,” Griffin said. “I was trying to piece things together from small bits I had.”
That album is poignant and ambitious. But the Maine native lives in Austin, which boasts a tremendous amount of recording artists, who go out on a limb with each project.
“Austin is a supportive place,” Griffin said. “Musicians do well to be near their tribe, and there are plenty of us here. One of the biggest impacts geographically has been around Latin music. That’s been life changing and great. There’s a huge, magical world of music south of our borders. There’s so much going on. I was much less aware of it before living in Austin.”
Griffin will kick off the “Use Your Voices” tour Friday at the Mahaffey. The vocalist-guitarist-pianist will share a stage with fellow singer-songwriters Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek) and Anais Mitchell (the winner of the Kerrville Folk Festival’s New Folk Award).
The singers-in-the-round format will feature all three recording artists on stage together sharing songs and accompanying each other.