December 16th, 2009 | Album reviews


  Download: Kenneth Pattengale – “Westward Wind”


(from the album Speak!, released on December 1 on Four Six Productions)

If you subscribe to When You Awake’s RSS feed, you’ll want to get your hands on the new record from Kenneth Pattengale.  Equal parts folk, country & western, swamp music, and blues, Speak! marks the seventh full-length album from this prolific Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter in about as many years.  This time round, traces of Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Ry Cooder waft amiably amongst Speak!’s songs of sinners, fools, vultures, and lost loves.

“Laredo” kicks things off with some breezy, country-hued twang.  It’s not hard to see how the track ended up featured in the independent film Peach Plum Pear, about a couple of road-weary travelers who end up stuck in the cornhusker state of Nebraska.  But the lazy pace doesn’t last—upbeat fiddling in “Rock & Roll ’Er” makes for a petticoat-swinging hoedown hit!  Borrowing heavily from Bob Dylan, “Big Time” features a provocative duet with renowned singer/songwriter and Grammy-winning producer Joe Henry, who’s long been one of Kenneth’s personal heroes.  The closing track, a sleepy cover of ’80s German outfit Alphaville’s “Forever Young,” is so far removed from the original synth-pop production, your New Wave friend with the keytar would hardly recognize it.

Pattengale has been handing out free copies of Speak! at his live shows all this month. If you missed your chance to get it from him personally, there’s always Santa.

– Linda Rapka