One Town Over
Need to Know
This is the debut for Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter G.F. Patrick. Patrick brings us 14 originals backed by tight unit that features Billy Conway (Morphine, Jeffrey Foucault) on drums to form an Americana sound backed in guitars and keyboards from Mark Blasquez while co-producer Frank Swatt handles the bass. Patrick plays an array of guitars as well. The album was recorded in California, also co-produced by Brian Brinkerhoff, and mastered in Nashville. Given his mid-Atlantic roots, Patrick doesn’t have that twang that so many in the idiom have but he he’s got that same sense of navigating a turf between folk and country with a strong, resonant voice. His strength is storytelling. And, he’s kind enough to share anecdotes about each of the songs.
We’ll take a few of them. The middle of the album has three radio friendly tracks. The title track is a thoughtful, brutally sad song about regret. Here is the second verse – “A last look over your shoulder with them heroine eyes/The alley is a church, you kneel, try and get by/This whole town judged you like it done before/The homecoming queen was now a druggie whore/And even if you came to visit there’d be nothing to say/You moved one town over, one decision away” followed by his guilt –“Everybody knows that being wrong aint hard/It’s saying it aloud that aint the easy part./I stand at this microphone confess I’ve wronged/Call me sometime if you hear this song/Cause there’s a lifetime between us now and nothing’s changed./I still remember your given name./You’ve got children in the next town, and I hear they play/I’m just one town over, and forgiveness away”
“Tennessee” is a dream about escape that was aborted, as his girl had second thoughts about leaving home. “Anger of Magdalene” carries Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” kind of rhythm as Patrick turns the usual murder ballad upside down by having the woman murder the man instead. Other highlights include “James McGovern,” one that would make Steve Earle proud given he’s just released an album honoring the grit of miners. Patrick takes a similar tact here.
Patrick doesn’t shirk the tough subjects either. “Blood on the Bottle” chronicles the intersection of alcoholism and domestic abuse while “Like Father” takes on the ongoing battle and effects of depression and “Till the Day We Die” was written for a friend going struggles with the indelible line – “My reflection is the devil and the mirror is my hell.”
Patrick delivers mature songs, some of which touch on matters that are difficult to talk about, let alone sing about but there’s no shortage of thought or emotion in his material. He doesn’t sugar coat. His songs may not lift you up but will prove provocative in their own way.
- Jim Hynes