Patrick Ames’ origin story as an artist begins in nondescript fashion. Having piqued an interest in songwriting as a teenager in the late 1960s, he was further influenced by the records owned by his older siblings. Come the time that he was college age, however, Ames shifted gears from a brief dabbling in the world of legitimate songwriting and performance to become a book publisher. Now in his early 60s, the San Francisco littérateur returns to his musical passions and carves his own respectable niche into the folk realm.
Ames’ newest EP, All I Do is Bleed, is faceted by the usual judgment of chromaticity in an indie-produced work. While we’ve become accustomed to the clear-cut luminosity of high-budgeted production, the natural qualities of his performance nevertheless makes for a lucrative package. Influenced by a visit to Buenos Aires, Ames returned to his American stead with an aim to gear the EP towards Latin influences. Accentuated by vocal performances from Chana and Michaela Matthews, as well as guitar from Paolo Augustin Rzeszut, the folk that Ames and company ultimately craft here aims to innovate from the base-work laid by his contemporaries fifty-something years prior.
The most straight-ahead track on the EP comes from ‘While You Were Making Babies’, ruminating on loneliness in the form of a palatable, percussion-driven folk-pop number. Light tinges of undulating bass lines, guitar, and backing vocals keep it rooted in a 60s charm, though the real bread and butter of the album lies within its three other offerings. There’s the classically-influenced wonders of composition ‘Queen Kae’ that verges on baroque, feeling like a fine precursor to the Spanish duet ‘Te Amaba Locamente’. Elsewhere, Ames infuses searing, tango-influenced tones in opener ‘I Want You’, making for a worthwhile listen.
Whereas contemporary folk of this ilk tends to look outwardly towards the state of the world, Ames looks within himself and towards a personal international adventure to craft his newest effort. The four songs of which All I Do is Bleed are comprised might not necessarily spark the next great philosophical discussion, but they do innovate on folk music in a sense that feels rarely done. Spanish influence has long since been invoked into the genre through the likes of artists from Bud & Travis to Mapache, but Ames’ specific Buenos Aires style stands out amongst the crowd and beckons for a listen.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)