Esme Patterson – Woman to Woman

Woman to WomanEsme Patterson has a vocal like melting honey churned with butter and something a little salty. It’s the kind of voice other artists dream of: perfectly adaptable but incredibly well suited to her Americana-meets-country style of music. Acting as the focal point of her new album Woman to Woman, this Denver based singer songwriter also has a few other tricks up her sleeve.

For starters, Woman to Woman is a concept album. In a vein similar to Tori Amos’ lauded 2001 album Strange Little Girls, the record imagines the response of female characters made famous by song. Lead track “The Glow”, for example, tackles Beach Boys’ “Caroline, No”. A beautiful, strung out ballad – its reverse in topic reflects in its parallel instrumentation.

Elsewhere the stylistic differences of the artists Patterson approaches are not so extreme: “Valentine” echoes the jingle-jangle of Elvis Costello’s “Alison”, and “Never Chase a Man” has the same giggled hiccup as Dolly Parton, albeit not on neighbouring song “Jolene”. Elsewhere classics by The Band, Bob Dylan, Leadbelly and even Michael Jackson contribute to Woman to Woman; making for an eclectic bunch turned cohesive dream in Patterson’s hands. The carefully spun concept of the album adds another dimension to every song, providing this writer with her only criticism: as none of the pairings are obvious in title, lyric or otherwise, it can all get a bit too much to comprehend. Or perhaps another coffee is in order.

Fortunately for Patterson and our caffeine stocks, knowledge of the concept of Woman to Woman isn’t really necessary. The album stands proud on its own two legs, chuckling to itself about the wily ways of women and romance. “What Do You Call a Woman” – which is somewhat bizarrely a response to Jackson’s “Billie Jean” – is an absolute delight, with the tongue-in-cheek humour of a surly country musician set to a rowdy, bluegrass tinged soundtrack. Final track “Wildflower” is equally as poignant, drawing comparison to Alela Diane and Caitlin Rose in equal parts.

There’s a very familiar feeling to Esme Patterson’s music, as though she’s always occupied a space on our fast becoming metaphorical music shelf. Partly this is down to vocal similarities with other loved artists. Even Regina Spektor sneaks in there, occasionally. For the large part however, and although Woman to Woman represents ten timeless ladies, Esme Paterson is her own woman. This is a standout record very early on in the year.

Release: 2nd February 2015, Xtra Mile Recordings

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