EP Review: Four Faces by Patrick Ames
Four Faces by Patrick Ames
Based in Palo Alto, CA, prolific singer-songwriter Patrick Ames is back with his 4th independent release in just two years, Four Faces. Named for the number of faces depicted on its eclectic artwork, Four Faces sees Ames at his best as he offers up a varied, yet cohesive blend of music in a style all his own.
Four Faces opens with the rock house gospel track, “Reawakened.” Ames has always been a socially observant artist and “Reawakened” is his opportunity to reign in the negativity that has invaded our society. With calls to ignore certain elements of life that can weigh you down, such as social media outlets and politicians, in favor of allowing our innate goodness to flourish, this is a track that is simmering with intriguing instrumentation and bursting with relevant lyrics. “The hour has come for the power of belief/At the good in us all/Is about to be released/The force of good has been reawakened.” Ever the optimist, Ames uses his lead off track as a sort of rallying cry for positivity and light in a world that can often be dim.
“The Lonely Lie So Easily” takes the tempo down and transplants listeners directly into the atmosphere of the song. The simple opening with the piano and faint background vocals draws you in before creating a sense of walking down a foggy street alone, late at night in your own loneliness, passing all sorts of people trying to hide their emotions. Overall, it is a contemplative track that lyrically lays out every day scenarios where people pass off stories to friends and strangers in an attempt to mask their inner feelings of isolation. In its own subtle way, it asks you to look a little bit closer at the people who may be hurting beneath the surface. Featuring a MIDI trio on piano, bass and saxophone, it is the sax that emphasizes a sense of unacknowledged sadness, but the piano that instrumentally stands out in its simplicity.
“The Meaning of Life” is a feel good, uptempo, quirky invitation to a love interest. With fun, punchy, poem style lyrics such as “So baby please/Please won’t you finally decide/On Me/With you/You know/We’ll get through/The meaning of life,” Ames masterfully adds melodies to his emotional delivery to give this track a complete feel. Steady backing vocals work to guide the storytelling that seems to focus on the interdependence between people and the many layers to relationships that allow us to live fully and experience everything that this life has to offer.
Four Faces closes with the light-hearted track, “This Small Town.” A happiness inducing song from its opening notes, “This Small Town” has a very “day in the life of” vibe to it that is charming and transportive. You almost immediately feel as if you are walking alongside him through the streets of Anytown, USA, waving to familiar faces and returning friendly smiles. The soprano saxophone and his percussive playing on the acoustic guitar keep the rhythm rolling and make you either want to whistle or skip, I can’t decide which. Either or, the song celebrates daily life and living openly in your truth to find your own personal joy. The laid-back, “take things as they come” attitude seems to personify Ames’ approach to winning at life, and winning he is.
While all of the songs on Four Faces are seemingly very different from one another, Ames manages to carefully thread rock, gospel, and R&B together to take his listeners on a complete, albeit condensed, journey. As always, Ames is putting it all out there. As singer, songwriter, producer, and general musical jack of all trades, you are getting 100% of him with every track he puts out. It is a commitment to music that is rare in what has become an industry inundated with prepackaged performers rather than artists who are devoted to their work. With a sound and a style that transcends generations and an unmatched authenticity, Ames continues to be a refreshing addition to the indie scene.
Four Faces is available now.