Patti Witten,
Land of Souvenirs
(Potent Folk Records, 1999)

Patti Witten's CD Land of Souvenirs opens with the unexpected -- a whispered poem -- and continues to offer poetic musings that carry the same power throughout the entire recording.

In a voice that brings to mind Joni Mitchell, Witten inflects her tunes with a disarming mixture of soft-spoken fragility and raw, throaty seductiveness. The title track is folk-rock at its best, commenting on the state of America in a style that sees it all and holds nothing back. "Blue Blanket" offers more proof that Witten has a poet's ability to clearly and beautifully articulate her particular view of the world. "Change of Heart Church Choir" features a steel guitar, which adds a haunting touch to this observant view of human nature.

"Ask Me About Your Dad" carries a tension played out through a prominent rhythm and offers another suprising twist at the end about children and divorce. "Last Looks" and "Is That True" move Witten through rockier territory; she seems equally at ease with pounding rhythms or simple acoustic rhythms. "Second Longest Day of the Year" pulls together all of Witten's talents and presents them in one of the tightest, most enjoyable songs of the collection.

Witten's abilities have made a strong impression on the music community; eight songs on Land of Souvenirs have placed in international songwriting contests in categories like folk, rock/pop, adult contemporary and modern-rock/alternative. That her songs are able to morph from one category to another is proof that good music is good music, no matter how you label it.

[ by Audrey M. Clark ]

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