- The Washington Times - Monday, March 10, 2003

Patty Larkin sings with the urgency of someone who knows how quickly innocence departs. On the new "Red = Luck," the singer-songwriter's 10th album, that knowledge provides the bruised subtext to her healing world view. Continuing the kitchen-sink approach to instrumentation that she began on 1997's "Perishable Fruit," the veteran singer deploys traditional and lap steel guitars, accordions and the bouzouki, a Greek stringed instrument similar to a mandolin, with a giddy sense of control.
A few of the tracks were recorded post-September 11, but their tone isn't exploitative, just reflective in a stunned sort of way.
Mixing mild rockers with dreamlike meditations, "Red=Luck" is as consistent in quality as it is varied in its musical colors.
Typical of its approach is "Too Bad," a quiet number characteristic of Miss Larkin's puckish sense of wordplay.
On "24/7/365," the singer bitterly dissects a relationship. "Isn't it a pity you got the better part of me?" she sings, and suddenly her sweetness curdles at the edges.
Her voice perks up for "Children," a peek at our past set to a sturdy drumbeat. "Birmingham" finds Miss Larkin unleashing a vague protest against the gap between rich and poor, but she offers neither fresh insights nor an alternative to the status quo.
"Different World" is the album's buoyant highlight, a soaring case for staying true to one's beliefs, more empowering than the average self-help paperback.
Miss Larkin, the poet, gets a bit high-flown in her language on "Inside Your Painting," an otherwise cheery crush of drums and a sensuous chorus.
Sometimes dark but never despairing, her songs induce a desire to pause to catch one's breath before re-entering the social fray.
Illuminating and sincere, ambitious and only occasionally too polite, "Red = Luck" captures a confident singer-songwriter exposing her fears for our collective comfort.

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