Saturday, March 1, 2008

Patti Scialfa - Play It As It Lays

Patti Scialfa
Play It As It Lays

Columbia Records - 2007

Overall, a great record. I haven't heard too much of Patti Scialfa's solo work, but I've been a fan of her voice since I was a kid. She began as a backup singer for Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band. The record is full to the brim with emotional and passionate writing, from one of the greatest female writer's out right now.

When I put this record on, it went by quickly. Not because it is necessarily a short record, but because it was so damned enjoyable. The record is also not too invasive. I was able to focus in on lines when they caught my attention, yet if I had this record on as background music it would have been just fine.

I definitely suggest a deep listening though, the woman can write a song.

#1-Looking For Elvis
This is a cool song. A journey through the youth of a young woman discovering Rock N' Roll. I love the juxtaposition of the crossroad in memphis and coming of age.

#2-Like Any Woman Would
A song that suggests pain from the past. Pain that has been learned from though. She's in love, but not sure what her lover is after. It's that uncertianty that drives so many of us crazy. Pay attention to her point of view.

#3-Town Called Heartbreak
Breakup songs can be hard to do. They can also be hard to listen to on infinite repeat unless you are a heartbroken teenage emo kid. This is an exception. Great to listen to over and over with a hopeful heart.

#4-Play Around
A bit contrived. Not my favorite on the album. Good rhyme-scheme, but the message is too simply stated. Grow up, women don't like boys, they like men.

#5-Rainy Day Man
The antithesis of the previous song. Kind of that romance-novel like man coming into play. Is that a regional thing or an age demographic thing? Do I see Fabio in the video for this song?

#6-The Word

This one didn't get stuck in my head. I had to look back over the lyrics to really remember it. Low point of the album for me, and the start of the second side.

#7-Bad For You
My favorite track on the album. The lyric, "You could've rolled me like tobacco, you could've spilled me like wine, across the lips, across the fingers, across the skin of your neighborhood, oh I could've had it bad for you and that's not good". Is it a thankful looking back? Did she have it bad for him and doesn't want to admit it? Sounds like it to me.

#8-Run, Run, Run
An ode to Shirley Muldowney, they first lady of drag-racing. Great prose here.

#9-Play It As It Lays
Listen for the B3 solo. Great song for being a title track. Excellent music.

#10-Black Ladder
Beautiful lyrics. Mysterious and gentle. This song is an excellent closer to the albums. Stripped and raw. Listen to the words.

A final note on this record. Not only is the material great and Patti's voice kicks ass, but the backing band is phenomenal. "The Whack Brothers Rhythm Section" is their moniker and they consist of no few than: Willie Weeks, Nils Lofgren, Clifford Carter and none other than "The Boss" himself, Bruce Springsteen (Scialfa's husband and Hammond B3/B4 man).