Review Archive

‘Silver Bell’ by Patty Griffin – album lost and found

(November 04, 2013)

Speculation about whys and wherefores of long-lost albums continues and the regular exhumation of those often considered buried by time and incident is unlikely to end. Perhaps I’m an old cynic but I’mSilver Bellalways prompted to ask how many losses are 'engineered' – especially when bootleg versions of ‘originals’ become freely available. The latest ‘lost album’ to come my way is Silver Bell’ by Patty Griffin. Originally planned as a follow up to her 1998 album Flaming Red, it remained unreleased and ‘lost’ by A&M records, allegedly due to toxic fallout over the label’s change of ownership.

Recorded in March 2000, ‘Silver Bell’ features Patty Griffin on vocals, guitar and piano, Jay Joyce and Doug Lancio guitars, John Deaderick on keyboards, Frank Swart on bass and Billy Beard percussion with Emmylou Harris featuring on vocals on ‘Truth #2’. And all cynicism aside, and despite the fact that most tracks are already in open circulation, it’s an album worth owning.

So what do you get? Well, there’s Patty’s iconic voice. There’s also the ethereal strangeness of the meditative ‘Little God’, infectious country-edged ease of‘Truth #2’, there’s ‘Boston’ complete with rock-edged guitar in contrast to a more distorted version on ‘Perfect White Girls’ and a relaxed bluesy ballad with‘Sooner or Later’. This is an album of contrasts exposing the gamut of Patty Griffin’s repertoire. From a ripping ‘Silver Bell’ which thrashes its unruly way through the speakers, through the gentle nearness of ‘Mother of God’ touching a simple sadness, to the driving bass and anthemic vocals of ‘Sorry and Sad’ - you never really know what to expect despite a familiarity with so many of the tracks.

In the way of things,’ lost albums’ inevitably acquire their own mythology and ‘Silver Bell’ is no exception, get over that and you’ll find another one that belongs in your collection.

Reviewer: Charlie Elland

Click here to return to the Review Archive page