Title - 'Play It As It Lays' (Sony)
Artist - Patti Scialfa
Would I have ever heard of Patti Scialfa, much less bought a CD by her, were I not already a fan of her husband and his famous backing band? Probably not (although I have to admit that I'm not much of a fan of some of the other Jersey Shore bands who were brought to my attention because of their affiliations with or support from Bruce Springsteen). But that doesn't change the fact that this is an excellent album that demonstrates what a powerful and literate singer/songwriter Patti is.
She seems to have toned down the vibratto in her vocals that many people find annoying, and her singing has a definite edge and roughness that fits the material very well. She reminds me of a cross between Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris, but creates a style that stands on its own independent of any comparisons. "Waiting for Elvis" would make a very good single if artists of Patti and her husband got any regular radio airplay anymore, but the whole album is very accessible and listenable with no filler to be found.
I would love to see Patti on her own tour, or have her sing some of these songs on an E Street Band tour. I'd also like for Bruce and Patti to do a "duet" album together, rather than just making background appearances on one another's records. Live renditions of songs like "Mansion on the Hill" and "If I Should Fall Behind" prove that they have great chemistry and that they can achieve gorgeous harmonies.
Regardless of your opinions about Bruce Springsteen, however, don't let your views about how she may have gotten a recording contract jade you or prevent you from enjoying what is a genuinely fine album.