the free will in patrick ames by patrick amesThe Free Will In Patrick Ames by Patrick Ames.

Fresh off the 2015 release Mutually, prolific singer-songwriter Patrick Ames is back with his full length LP, The Free Will In Patrick Ames. If the title sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Ames has a unique approach to music that often reminds people of one of the greats. He decided to acknowledge that in his typical easy going fashion. With a nod towards the comparisons his style has drawn, Ames titled the release “as a pun on the old master, on ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” And while a certain similarity sometimes exists between the two, Ames’ approach to music making stands strongly on its own. A conglomeration of different styles from blues to classic rock to gospel to 60s protest and beyond, The Free Will In Patrick Ames is available now.

The first half of The Free Will In Patrick Ames spends most of its time looking at the personal side of life, kicking things off with “Come Back to Me.” If the bustling street sounds that greet you do not get your attention, Ames asking “When’s the last time you were high?” surely will. While this track is a funny look at a drunken attempt to serenade a lost love, it gets somewhat lost in its efforts to translate that drunkenness, especially with its disjointed pacing. However, Ames does get bonus points for his attempt at tuba playing before he moves on to the sentimental, “Hold Me,” a song about his son turning 21 and all of the emotions that go along with letting go. A skillfully played, percussion heavy track, “Hold Me” grabs your attention as Ames bangs the bongo drums with a rhythm that will have you tapping along to the introspective lyrics. “Now I see you/Soon I won’t/Do you agree that/Time does run?”

Ames takes the tempo down a notch with “And the Angels.” The guitar and harmonica set the mood, creating a mental picture of an older man reflecting on his life and dreams, perhaps watching the sun set with a bit of regret. “Wars are never really over/They live on in the minds of their soldiers/Where every night/It’s the same dream.” There is a sense of serendipity as Ames sings “And the angels/Have to choose.” Oddly enough, the song about one of his pets that passed is possibly my favorite of this release.  At over six minutes, “Mi Gato” is a long track but the tempo, choice of instruments and strong guitar playing keep it going in a somewhat celebratory way. The first half closes out with “On the Next Sunny Day,” a simple love song where Ames again does a nice job with the guitar.

The second half of The Free Will in Patrick Ames focuses more on examining the political state of our country and in addressing some of the many lingering social issues we face. As Ames is apt to do, he begins by bringing humor to the subject of our current presidential campaign with one we can all relate to, “My Nightly Prayers Are Getting Long.” With a blues rock feel, Ames offers an “if we don’t laugh, we’ll cry” mentality as you hear the despair in his voice while he says “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death/I shall fear no evil/But these politicians, they scare me.” The political observations continue with the gospel like track “Freedom Summer.” An ode to those who fought against oppression through rebellion, it is a declaration of freedom with a touch of social justice commentary.  “We are united that wrong laws can be righted/And without equality/There’s no justice and no liberty.”

“There’s No Answer” implements a different type of vocal delivery in the beginning that creates a sort of echoing effect as it goes on to look at the difficulties of recapturing lost love. The soulful guitar playing here does a good job of emphasizing a sense of emptiness before moving into the more hopeful “Tomorrow,” which questions what the future holds. There is a mellow, wanderlust feel to this one as well as a good use of a variety of instruments that keeps things interesting. The Free Will in Patrick Ames wraps up with “Throw Away People,” a socially conscience track about the wastefulness of humans and the effects that linger as a result.

There is a certain freedom of expression that comes with creating music as a second career. On The Free Will in Patrick Ames, Ames shows growth as an artist by offering a wider array of observations against an inclusion of a variety of instruments from the traditional to things like the tuba and accordion. While a pun on Dylan’s breakthrough album title, The Free Will in Patrick Ames is an appropriately named LP as he certainly explores whatever he wants in whatever manner he chooses wether it makes perfect sonic sense to listeners or not. Ames is living outside the standard confines of career expectation and the result is a bumpy roller coaster ride of fun viewed through the lens of someone rediscovering the joy of doing exactly what he wants. And that, is the essence of “free will.”