BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Legendary lost albums have always held a certain fascination, the sort of thing that prompts fans and fanatics to muse about music hidden in the recesses of history. The Beach Boy’s Smile, Dylan’s Great White Wonder and the Who’s Lifehouse provide but a few tempting examples of a proverbial mother lode, but those aren’t the only elusive offerings sought by collectors. Though it’s hardly as legendary as the aforementioned efforts, Patty Griffin’s long lost Silver Bell provides a similar lure.
Intended as the follow-up to Griffin’s sophomore set Flaming Red, Silver Bell finds a young artist still determining her direction. Griffin’s furtive vocals dominate the album overall, but the settings shift dramatically throughout. The rural ramble of “Truth 2” (featuring harmony vocals from consistent colleague Emmylou Harris) and the rousing strum of “Boston” contrast with the rumble and crunch of “Perfect White Girls and the heady rock of “Silver Bell,” even as the languid drift of “Sooner Or Later,” “What You Are” and “One More Girl” help keep matters on an even keel. Griffin even channels her inner Joni Mitchell on “Mother of God,” a song that suggests she harbors a frustrated folkie who’s residing within.
At the time of its intended release, Silver Bell was shelved due to shake-ups in the record company hierarchy, making its delay more frustrating still. Several of its songs would be re-recorded for future releases, but this mishap begged to be rectified. Happily, it has, and the delay of a dozen years hasn’t diminished its appeal.
DOWNLOAD: “Mother of God,” “Truth 2,” “Boston”