Friday, September 07, 2007

Play it as it Lays

One hopes and expects that Patti Scialfa enjoys her life. She’s a member of the mighty E Street Band (and the Sessions Band as well, she had a couple of cool solo turns on the Live in Dublin set.) She’s the wife of Bruce Springsteen and the mother of their three children. She is a fine songwriter and she has a sweetly husky, smoky singing voice that is reminiscent of the great Ronnie Spector. And every once in a while she gets into the studio and delivers up a delightful little gem of a CD.

Her first CD, 1993's Rumble Doll, was a fine collection and her second, 2004's 23rd Street Lullaby, was even better. Play it as it Lays, a bluesy affair with a tight band (anchored by The “Whack Brothers Rhythm Section” featuring E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren, bassist Willie Weeks, drummer Steve Jordan, keyboardist Clifford Carter, and some guy named Bruce on guitars and organ) and soulful backup singers, continues that trajectory with a funky, affecting set of evocative songs.

Scialfa hits the ground running with the grand “Looking for Elvis”, a bluesy country number (see video below) and follows that with, “Like Any Woman Would”, a soulful paean to womanhood that name-checks Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo and Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar and incorporates elements of the Chiffons classic “He’s So Fine”.

The disc…clocking in at just under 40 minutes…continues on a bluesy (there’s that word again), sometimes swampy, sometimes rockin’ “Run, Run, Run”, a tribute to drag racer Shirley Muldowney is a fun, foot-tapper from beginning to end), mid-tempo groove that fits Scialfa like a glove.

The title song is a bittersweet…emphasis on the sweet and the positive…celebration of love and life that lopes and shimmers along and keeps you engaged as does the understated (it almost sounds like a lullaby), love-affirming finale, “Black Ladder”.

Play it as it Lays is a CD that will deliver up new nuances and little surprises every time you play it. It won’t sell zillions of copies…more’s the pity for that…but hopefully it will sell enough to allow Patti Scialfa to…every once in a while at least…give us more delightful little gems in the future. I can only hope.


Sadeyes57 said...

I am not sure their daughter, Jessie, would like being called a son but it is great to see an article on Patti. I love her and was hoping to catch her on the E Street tour but the O2 Arena in England had other plans. Great article. Thanks

Michael K. Willis said...

That's what I get for posting when I'm a bit tired...good catch, I've corrected it. And thanks for the comment.

Sally said...

Great review. I love this CD. I'm so glad that others appreciate it too. I heard rumors that she might do a solo tour in 2008.