A native of Toledo, OH currently based in Palo Alto, CA, singer-songwriter Patrick Ames leads a life that is not typical of most musicians. With a resume that includes working for some of the top companies in the world including Apple and Adobe, Ames also owns a vineyard in Napa Valley which means he has somewhat limited time to dedicate to his music career. But with three releases in as many years and a Tuesday night residency at FreeWheel Brewing Company in Redwood City, his part-time status might be the best kept secret in the area. While the direction of Ames’ life led him to full-time work in the high tech field, he has always had music in his soul and has managed to keep it as a part of his life since his college days. At 60 years of age, the result of Ames’ years of honing his craft is on full display with his latest work. Released earlier this year, the five track EP Mutually, is available now.
Mutually opens with the light hearted song “Do You Think That You Love Me.” With a guitar riff that lures listeners in and a seductively hypnotizing chorus, there is also a touch of classic indie rock to this track that blends beautifully with its pop base. A bit of Ames’ personality also shines through as he’s clearly having fun and it shows in lyrics such as “I have a new band/We rock on/We all wear Raybans /To hide from the throngs.” Ames then moves into “One of Your Traps” where he creates a toe tapping opening with guitar plucking and drum playing that surrounds its blues rock base. With his vocal delivery and lyrics such as “I don’t know where you’re going with that/But it sure looks like one of your traps/Disguised as something I truly need/It waits for me insistently,” this one is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
The mid-point of Mutually, “America Needs,” returns Ames to a theme widely seen on his 2014 socially conscience release, Oakville Ontology. A folk song, this track breaks from the previous light hearted tone to address serious issues within our country. A simply constructed, mainly acoustic piece, Ames picks up his guitar and lyrically lists what needs to be done to start resolving long standing issues as he sings “America needs/No more hatred just policy/America needs/No more ideologies.”
Mutually begins to wrap up with its title track. A love song inspired by watching two strangers at a bar engage in conversation, “Mutually” is about finding and celebrating commonality of the human spirit despite differences on the surface. “Could it be/Opposites agree/And somehow drift toward love. …mutually.” The addition of an organ and horns makes this the most instrumentally pleasing track of the release. Mutually closes with “You’ll Have to Wait a Little Longer” and begins with a driving drum line and a deep bass feel. Sonic sounds as it opens suggest, as the title implies, that any answers you may need to current economic or political problems are not imminent, but in the future. “Then we elect the same politicians/And they form more committees/If what you want is/A certain urgency/You’ll have to wait a little longer.”
Like the fine wine that could come from his vineyard, Patrick Ames just gets better with time. With a distinct voice, a gift for the guitar and a talent for songwriting, he is an Americana folk artist worth checking out. A prolific and compelling storyteller at his core, Ames has the ability to craft songs in a way that paints a picture for listeners while keeping them wanting and waiting for more. Luckily, that wait won’t be too long. He is currently working on his new LP with a tentative release date of February 2016. In the meantime, those in the San Francisco area can catch Ames performing live on Tuesdays at FreeWheel Brewing Company in Redwood City and I highly recommend that everyone download Mutually online.