A guitar focused singer/songwriter, Patty Larkin has immersed herself in a musical world that knows no borders. Her most recent solo release, Red=Luck, showcases a world where the ancient strains of modal folk meet brooding ambient noise. It is a world where Middle-Eastern flavored melodies collide with R&B, where joyous pop and somber reflection, playful eroticism and naked soul searching entwine. Here Larkin has created a world beyond her guitar that springs from the imagination, each song part of a tightly written song cycle cinema verite of challenging times. Red=Luck is the supremely assured work of an artist who has caught a near perfect wave: an artist whose influence becomes clearer with each passing season. While Larkin's fine guitar work has been recognized by live audiences since her emergence on the acoustic music scene, it is her skills as a producer, soundscape artist and songwriter that have garnered accolades from fans and critics alike (Billboard, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair).
Larkin's newest project continues to crisscross the globe: it is a compilation of women guitarists from around the world, a melting pot of styles and genres that has been in the works for several years. La Guitara, Gender Bending Strings, is the brainchild of Patty Larkin and Bette Warner and it is a diverse audio journey that enlightens and entertains. A guitar crazed songwriter herself, Patty had often been asked about women's ability to play and perform on an instrument that is known as the bastion of male musicians. Warner and Larkin decided to begin with a broad stroke of the brush. They expanded their search for fine female guitarists to include a multitude of styles from around the globe. The results are exhilarating and inspiring, and are contained in La Guitara. Looking forward to the national tour which includes Patty, Kaki King, Muriel Anderson and Mimi Fox in the Fall of '05, and Patty, Kaki and Sharon Isbin in March of '06, Patty's enthusiasm is palpable: "This is a dream come true", says Larkin. "To be able to hold a collection of women guitarists in my hands, many of whom I've admired for years, is a real thrill for me. It's a man's world when it comes to the guitar, but we're concentrating on using the word in the feminine form. La Guitara. We want audiences to know of the contributions that women have made to the instrument, and continue to make in increasing numbers. I find it extremely inspiring both personally and musically." Then with a closing smile, "These girls can play!"
Born in Iowa, Larkin grew up in Milwaukee, in a family where music created generational bonds. "My grandmothers both played piano and when we would get together we would sing. I remember being small and standing underneath the keyboard while someone was playing barrelhouse blues and I felt like I had just seen God; it was a great sound to me." After playing music on her own in her teens, first piano, then guitar, Larkin attended the University of Oregon where she earned a degree in English Literature. From there, she headed east to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Larkin thus honed both an incisive writing approach and a broad musical palette - her musical evolution had begun.
It has been a remarkable journey - originally hailed for her acoustic guitar wizardry and blazing wit, Larkin has never hesitated to expand her musical horizons. After a brace of albums for Rounder/Philo, her Windham Hill debut, the exquisite TANGO (1991) is the apogee of her time in the Boston singer/songwriter scene. ANGELS RUNNING (1993) and STRANGERS WORLD (1995) have become perennial AAA radio staples; arguably the most incisive, artistically cohesive discs of the Lilith era. Larkin's landmark PERISHABLE FRUIT (1997) and REGROOVING THE DREAM (2000, Vanguard) rewrote the sonic and lyric rulebook for acoustic based songcraft. Percussive use of the lap steel ("slapsteel"), loops, samples - all found a comfortable place within Larkin's songs; and with them, Larkin started riding the wave she now inhabits.
Her songs have been covered by artists ranging from modern-day chanteuse Holly Cole to pop-diva icon Cher. Her own renditions have been heard in movies ranging from Ivan Reitman's Evolution (DreamWorks) starring Julianne Moore and David Duchovny to the Sydney Pollack directed Random Hearts (Columbia Pictures), starring Harrison Ford and Kristen Scott Thomas which used Larkin's "Good Thing" as end title. She has received multiple awards, an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music and even been accorded her own "day" ("Patty Larkin Day") by the city of Boston.
Larkin is gratified by these accolades, but her eye is on the bigger picture. Like many a master artist, she has made the brave decision to keep growing, to keep expanding, rather than to rest on her previous accomplishments. "I look at each new album as an art opening - where the visual artist must create a show that is cohesive and dynamic, one that reflects the time in which the work was made. I am inspired by change - it defines me, and it can be subtle or radical. It captures my imagination."
She quotes from the Dalai Lama: "Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk." For Patty Larkin, one can only guess in what direction the wave will take her. One can know, however, that whatever direction it is, the journey will be extraordinary.