Patrick Ames is a singer-songwriter and performer who hails from Napa, California and has extensive experience in music. Ames is known for his stripped-down music with deep lyrics and strong raw emotions, making “Harmonium,” out to be the most profound album in his discography in that respect. Likewise, “Harmonium,” is where he demonstrates that he is capable of creating music that his fans will adore and appreciate. Featured artists on this album include Chana Matthews doing back-up vocals and long-time collaborator and producer Jon Ireson.
His upbringing in a musical household has undoubtedly left its mark on his artistic expression. His mother was a member of the church choir and sang opera. His father and his elder brothers were all huge music aficionados, and they particularly enjoyed bands and music from the 1960s. More specifically, the style of music known as Motown. Glen Campbell, Holland, Dozer, Holland were significant figures in his musical and songwriting upbringing.
Ames didn’t start creating songs until he was 14 years old. A guitar and record collection were left for him by his older brothers, who were already attending college at the time. In 1976, he dabbled in the music industry for a while before deciding to focus his efforts on the field of book publishing instead. He would not participate in music ever again for the next 25 years. In the end, it was the discarded fender that belonged to his son that rekindled his passion for music.
His love for all things classic and old led him to a passion for literature and spirituality, both of which are reflected in his song-writing. Perhaps in an attempt to remotely touch the past in and of itself, Ames also owns a vineyard.
In traditional folk fashion, “No People Are Supreme” is a political song directed against those in power and those who believe themselves to be superior to others. The emphasis here is on the lyrics, with rough vocals and a musical palette confined to traditional instruments such as the guitar. On the second track of the album, “Sometimes,” the narrator laments about why the young are not being heard and how he can’t always grasp the world around him; the narrator’s voice has a tone of fatigue or even discontentment with the status quo.
The mood and tone of “DontChaWanna” are markedly different from those of the remainder of the album. Rocking guitars and Ames’ gritty vocals fill up the soundscape. In this piece, Ames is pondering fortune and fame. He addresses it to someone and inquires as to whether or not they want to basque in fame. If they could choose to quit their job. Is this something you’re interested in? He addresses the audience when asking those questions.
The album harmoniously ends with “Grace,” a minimalistic tune which opens with Ames being asked to give a blessing before a dinner. He then begins singing a song in which he expresses his gratitude for many aspects of his life. It’s a heartfelt and poignant conclusion to a politically tinged and abrasive record.
Overall, this album displays Ames’ ability to deftly combine folk, blues, and soft rock, resulting in tracks that are concise, lyrically profound, and so addicting that you can’t help but play them again and again.