Diane Patterson got my attention by referring to musician Rita Hosking as THE Rita Hosking because that is the way I have felt about Hosking since I first reviewed one of her albums years ago. I wanted to jump out of my chair and yell “YES! Finally!” because few realize the importance and depth of the music Hosking has created. Evidently, Patterson does.
After reading this review of Patterson's Open Road, you might think she and I cooked this up at a meeting of The Rita Hosking Fan Club, but not so. I first heard the album this morning but have it on loop and want to get these words down before they are gone. Only the third time through and I love this album.
I have no idea whether Patterson is Native American but if she is not she sure has the spirit and music in her blood. The rhythms, the patterns, the topics. The voice--- ah, that voice. A bit of Joni and a bit of Essra Mohawk and a bit of so many female vocalists I have admired over the years. She adapts it to song so well--- surprising well, in fact--- from semi-Joni Mitchell on the opener, “Rogue River Highway” to straight rock, Gabrielle Gerwitz-style on “Eagle Feather” (Gabrielle put out one exceptional album titled Wide you can check out on YouTube), to floating perfection on “Full Moon”.
The voice itself is nice but when you couple it with subject matter and the music there is a meeting of the minds, if voice and lyrics and music can be said to have minds. Ten originals to get you bopping or take you into another dimension. And how could she go wrong by choosing to cover Marca Cassity's classic “Raven”, a wonderful modern return to the Native American past, or perhaps that should be the present.
The band is outstanding and with Mike Napolitano producing, the sessions must have gone smoothly, indeed. The feel from beginning to end is very positive and flowing, as if the songs were put in that order for good reason.
Funny that I had not heard of Patterson before because she lives just down the pike (I did mention that I am from Oregon, right?) on the Rogue River in a town called Williams which I once read about in a very humorous book written by a lady who had once lived there, probably in the forties or fifties. I wish I could remember the name of the author and the book. I would love to read it again.
A side note: “Shape of Your Sorrow” is a reminder of the shooting in Orlando at the nightclub Pulse in 2016. The song could apply to any of the shooting tragedies to which we have been exposed over the past few years, including the recent Parkland shootings in Florida. Obviously, Patterson had no prescience of such a nightmare and wrote the song, I assume, as a tribute/reminder to/of the people who fell that night, but it applies to all such insane events, no matter when or where they happen. Every time I hear her sing “Mine is shaped like a heart bent into a teardrop falling on the dance floor,” my heart bleeds a little. So many massacres which should bring us together and yet divide us further. And in my heart, my fist raises in protest at the end when she sings, simply, “Non-violent revolution”. “Shape Of Your Sorrow” is not just a song. It is a call to arms.
While I do not know Diane Patterson personally, I hope to see her perform live in the near future. Like I said, she lives just down the pike and it would be worth the drive, I am sure. In the meantime I shall rely on Open Road to keep me in touch with the reality that I know is coming.