If someone wrote the lyric “I need a man, not a tumbleweed” directed at the long dead Townes Van Zandt you’d think they would no longer be allowed to step foot in Austin. Sure she may have worked with local darling Shakey Graves in the past, but Esmé Patterson’s “Tumbleweed” could still be considered by some a sacrilegious retelling of Townes’ classic “Loretta.” Personally though, her version makes me feel ashamed for never considering the “bar room girl’s” side of the story, and I’m glad someone breathed new life into the narrative that Townes left nearly forty years ago. It takes moxie to mess with songs like that, and Patterson’s Woman to Woman is an entire album dedicated to the revision of similarly untouchable songs like Elvis Costello’s “Allison” and the Beach Boy’s “Caroline, No.” They’re not covers, but responses written from the perspective of the women those songs were about. It might make some music geeks squirm (I did when I heard someone challenged my beloved “Loretta”), but nothing is sacred, especially when it comes to pop music. Nothing and nobody is perfect anyways, and the things that are thought of as such are probably the ones ripe for new conversations.
Esmé Patterson is now out with a new record titled We Were Wild, but don’t worry your sensitive music snob soul, Patterson turned inward for her inspiration this time around. What hasn’t changed are Patterson’s sharp lyrics, confident vocal stylings, and folk n’ roll sound. Like Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield, Patterson’s lyrics parse the minutiae of everyday experience and the inner-workings of decision, memory, and love–taking the listener on a turbulent ride through her own mind. We Were Wild is certainly emotionally chaotic, but it’d be a lie if someone spoke of their lives otherwise. Check out some of the songs off the album from her Studio 1A session below.