album reviews

Patty Larkin
Watch the Sky
Vanguard Records (2008)

Boston folk singer Patty Larkin is often mentioned alongside such contemporaries as Christine Lavin, founder of the Four Bitchin' Babes, a folk quartet that included Larkin on its 1991 debut.

But Larkin stands alone on her latest, "Watch the Sky," taking the concept of a solo album to its extreme: She played every instrument and sang every vocal. More important, though, her approach feels effortless; it's more an interesting footnote than the album's sole gimmick. Better still is her choice to keep her songs simple rather than burden them with unnecessary instrumentation. "All Souls Day" has a haunting sparseness, and slow-paced "Cover Me" pairs Larkin's breathy voice with a minimal guitar line.

Her one-woman-band approach is occasionally exposed, such as with the looped guitar that pulses on the instrumental "Bound Brook." But that subtle repetition grounds her more impressionistic flourishes, giving a juxtaposition of structure and fluidity that nicely embodies the song's title.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 8 February 2008, Page WE13
.: Watch the Sky on