Californian Singer Songwriter Patrick Ames leans into his eccentric style, troubadour wisdom and black humor on his best release to date, new 6-track EP Liveness. If you’re a fan of artists like Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen or Gil Scot Heron, you should hear Patrick Ames.
On Liveness, Ames accents his DIY recording techniques with lots of live mics, whether it be vocals or his accompanied guitar. It’s as live as you can be. “It’s was like recording the process of songwriting,” and to be sure the songs are lovely, emotional, and melodic. Welcome to the musical space Ames has built using live sounds and compound lyrics. He inhabits the spaces with stories and riffs of life, and it’s all fresh, alive, and vibrant, with enough soul to want to listen to again.
“Patrick’s ethos for the Liveness album was to convey the energy of live performance so, from a mixing standpoint, we sought to leave in all the quirks and personality, particularly of the acoustic guitar. Strings twang and squeak, voices strain and break but it all works together to make for a more soulful record. Patrick is weaving together several different styles on this album, from bossa nova to slow jam to Gil-Scott Heron-inspired funk. The trick was to find that through-line to tie it all together and in the end, it was that “liveness”, that raw authenticity, that makes it feel like a cohesive record.“
– Jon Ireson, Sound Engineer for Liveness
Patrick’s comment on Want to Believe –“ A remix of my own song, from the album Standard Candles. It’s dope. It’s rock/blues/soul rolled into one biting song of social commentary, the soullessness of technology, and the number of people who devote their lives to the constant Silicon Valley toys and gadgets. Lyrics add contrast with the soul-infused melody and backup lyrics”.
Patrick is a man who plays to his own inner muse, revealing a complex set of inspirations and incantations from the eclectic songwriter. One can expect more than a dash of the raw, dark, and mournful, along with hopeless romance, artistic conviction, and a fiercely in-the-moment, DIY approach where the recording style is both instrument and live-ness detector.
And what you soon learn is that Patrick Ames is passionate. Writing/literature is a passion. Lyrics and poetry are passions. Melody/guitar/music writing is a passion. Nature and wine country are passions. Spirituality and inner connection, passion. Psychological pursuits, passion. Anything activist or community-related are passions. Knowledge, education, are passions. Ames smiles, “Wine makes you passionate.”
Ames started writing songs in 1968 when he was 14 years old. He inherited a guitar and dozens of classic albums from his older brothers who went off to college. An avid songwriter and performer during his own college tenure, he went into book publishing after attempting the music circuit in 1976. It would be 25 years before he would play seriously again. “I bought my son a cheap Fender and amp. He didn’t like it. I loved it. I cranked it up and played with abandon. And then it all came back, in spades.”
Now, in his early 60’s, Ames has returned to songwriting armed with decades of word-smithing, book publishing, and decades of practice. Through a series of experimental EP and LP releases, including “Four Faces,” “Like Family,” “Affettuosos,” “Standard Candles,” and “All I Do Is Bleed,” he has established his personal signature with a gravelly, heart-on-the-sleeve voice box and carefully considered lyrics. Critics are sitting up.
“I tell stories, so lyrics and music come hand in hand. It usually starts with a musical riff and then I match that riff with some kind of striking lyric. So I have a musical riff and a lyrical riff. Then, as a story, I let those two fly together and piece the story together.” For example, his last EP release came with a doozie of a title – “All I Do Is Bleed”. When asked about the meaning, Ames smiles, “Passions can overwhelm you.”
So far, Ames has stuck to DIY production approaches, experimenting with studio live-ness and recording. It’s unusual in folk/acoustic music for such experimentation but his latest 6-track release, Liveness (April, 2020), showcases his banshee wail and devoted disposition.
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