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Downtown Church
Artist:  Patty Griffin
Label:  Credential Recordings
Time:  14 Tracks / 47 minutes

This recording has many special meanings to me.  Not only is Patty Griffin one of my favorite artists, the building where he recorded this incredible album was once the very church I attended when I lived in Nashville.  I was married there and my first daughter was baptized there as well.  It is also the place where one weekend several years ago, a few friends holed up in that sanctuary and helped Julie Lee make her first independent release. 

For those of you who are not familiar with Griffin’s work, I encourage you to become familiar with it.  Over the course of six albums, she has made very literate, passionate, and soulful music.   Griffin, also has had many songs covered by artists, including The Dixie Chicks, Solomon Burke, and Emmylou Harris to name just a few.

So let’s get to her most recent project.  Downtown Church, which was recorded in Nashville at the Downtown Presbyterian Church under the watchful eye of Buddy Miller, is a beautiful collection of hymns, spirituals and some country/bluegrass classics.

Griffin, who describes herself as a “lapsed Catholic,” brings a passionate delivery to these fourteen songs.  The emotion that she puts into these songs are both refreshing and make this reviewer believe that there is a true faith being expressed. 

One reviewer called this album a “Mongrel Gospel” album and I can’t think of a better way to describe it.  The songs come from various genres including country, Hank Williams’ “House of God,” to traditional numbers such as “Wade in the Water,” and “If I Had My Way.”   There are even a couple of originals that Griffin wrote that fit right into the mix quite well.

And of course, you can’t make a record in Nashville without several friends helping out.  Artists such as Emmylou Harris, Jim Lauderdale, and Mike Farris lend a hand to the proceedings.

Regardless of your religious or faith convictions, this collection of songs should be heard and enjoyed.  As I type this, it is easily my record of the year so far. 

By Gar Saeger


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