Patty Griffin 

Friday, April 22; the Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard)

Who in their right mind would try to describe the music of Patty Griffin? We can talk about her beautiful singing voice, her imaginative writing, her creative arrangements. Yes, we can throw adjectives in front of nouns all day, but we can't easily describe what makes her special.

Griffin's songs are complex, nuanced and difficult, yet lovely. She writes from points of view distant from her own, such as that of an old man looking back on the regrets of his life ("Top of the World") or that of a middle-aged woman getting more and more wrapped up in her unfulfilled desires ("Mother of God"). She sets these lyrics to elegant melodies that veer between simple constructions and elaborate forms. And she sings these songs with an inviting, richly evocative vocal style and a wide, dynamic range. Patty Griffin is, in short, a major talent.

She also has a nice little career going. Her songs have been sung by the likes of Bette Midler, Mary Chapin Carpenter and, most prominently, the Dixie Chicks. Meanwhile, Griffin continues to make her own albums, to more and more public notice. She has achieved her success on her own terms, never compromising her work.

Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $17.50; call 314-726-6161 for more information.

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