23 June 2023
Patterson Barrett is a survivor. His latest release, "I Just Can't Call It Quits", refers to his longevity in the music biz as well as his personal battle with cancer. Even though it cost the singer/songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist a kidney last year, Patterson has recovered and is back making music in his adopted Austin home town. Aided by famous former bandmates Buddy and Julie Miller, from the now defunct group Partners In Crime he founded in the mid-seventies, Barrett lays down a sound heavily influenced by Poco and the Flying Burrito Brothers with some Jerry Jeff Walker sprinkled in as well as some Sam and Dave soul licks.
The Millers chime in on their original, “I'm Pretending,” sounding like a classic country hit from the '50s, blending George Jones and Buck Owens with plenty of guitar twang and cry-in-your-beer fiddle. Barrett is a one-man band for most of the sound on the record, contributing acoustic guitar, pedal steel, piano, bass, drums, and vocals on this one, aided by Miller on harmony vocals with Cam King on electric guitar and Gene Elders on fiddle.
Sam and Dave's '67 classic “Soul Man” is virtually unrecognizable, turned into a twangy shuffle, cowboy soul that sounds like it borrowed the melodic framework of Eric Clapton's laid back '77 hit “Lay Down Sally,” with a vocal that sounds like Clapton and Jerry Jeff stirred up in a blender. Patterson leaves original “Soul Man” guitarist Steve Cropper's signature lick intact in the bridge, but otherwise lopes along lazily down a country road.
Patterson's Neil Young infatuation is evident on the title cut, but he takes Young a bit farther into the country corral with his yodeling and weepy pedal steel.
Even though it's a secular tune about matters of the heart, “Longing For Sun” has a country gospel feel like a Burrito Brothers spiritual with Emmy Lee soundalike Jaimee Harris on harmony vocals.
Trying to pigeonhole Patterson is a daunting task. He doesn't roost anywhere long enough to get a leash on him, heading out into wherever the wind takes him. But his flights are always worth tracking, a unique glidepath to marvel at and follow closely.
Grant Britt (