November 24, 2009
It’s taken a long time to put words together for this review, mostly because the prospect of Patty Griffin being billed on a mainstream single is too exciting not to cloud critical judgments a little. I mean, seriously – “featuring Patty Griffin.” From the same label that just won Taylor Swift a Female Vocalist award. It’s far too much cool for a body to digest in one sitting.
After that initial shock fades, though, “Seeing Stars” doesn’t linger much. There’s an admirable core message about maintaining optimism through down times, with the chorus comparing the act to spiritual faith and the verses implying (impressionistically, which is a nice touch) that once one chooses to see optimistically, new opportunities begin to appear in unexpected corners of life, perhaps along with understandings of why past dreams didn’t work out.
The grace and nuance of that message never totally finds its match in the spotty melody, however, and Ingram’s understated vocal doesn’t always stick out in the mix. It’s a nice single, to be sure, but for such an interesting lyric, it’s hard not to wish for a slightly stronger package.
On the other hand, though…Patty Griffin.
Written by Jack Ingram & Chris Tompkins