California singer-songwriter Patrick Ames will release his EP, Liveness, on April 4, a collection of six-tracks embracing an array of styles, from bossa nova to slow-jam to potent funk.
Produced by Jon Ireson, the EP features Ames (guitars, midi-guitar synth, vocals), Chana Matthews (vocals), and Mikaila Matthews (vocals).
According to Ireson, “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.”
Ames grew up in a musical family, surrounded by the wall-of-sound expansiveness of Motown music and opera. By the time he was 14-years-old, he was writing songs, playing the guitar he inherited from his older brothers, and listening to a lot of music. Later, while he was in college, he continued writing songs and performing live.
After college, he went into book publishing, essentially putting his musical aspirations on hold for 25-years. Then one day, the flame reignited.
“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,” explains Ames.
Ames lives in Napa, California, in a vineyard, which informs his unique sound. “The music that I write, and play, is not so much Americana as it is what I call Wine Country music: it’s a mix of heady folk, basic rock, classic Motown, and choral music with an artistic and intellectual bent. Best heard with a glass of wine.”
The EP begins with “Bang Bang Bang,” a blues-flavored song with hints of gospel, infused with spoken lyrics advocating for a cessation of gun violence. Glowing vocal harmonies give the lyrics creamy, oozing textures.
Highlights include “Just Before I Said I Do (Wedding Song), featuring a melody dripping with sensuous colors and tints of Tango savors. Measured and rolling on an undulating rhythm, Ames’ voice imbues the lyrics with voluptuous energy.
“Slow Dancing” rides buttery Latin flavors topped by Ames’ rich, gravelly tones reminiscent of Leonard Cohen, rich, expressive, and tantalizing. “Want to Believe,” my favorite track on the EP, is a remix of a song from Ames’ album, Standard Candles. Seething with low-slung blues and soul textures, the lyrics provide a critical take on the impersonality and indifference of technology.
Liveness delivers cool soundscapes with infectious rhythms, as well as sleek visceral colors, and the inimitable deluxe voice of Patrick Ames.