Bay Area indie songwriter Patrick Ames has an impressively deep catalog of music. Favoring the EP format, he released the five-song Mutually in 2015. 2016’s Standard Candles includes seven tracks; spotlight track “Want to Believe” showcases Ames’ snaky, spare and bluesy approach. Guest vocalists Chana and Mikaela Matthews provide some soulful texture, and their talents figure into many of Ames’ subsequent releases. Averaging an EP release per year, the prolific artist powered right through the lockdown era with a topical song (“Essential Workers”) and a funky excursion, billing himself for the latter in 2021 as The Virtualistics.
Recording under his own name again in 2022, Ames’ seven-song Harmonuim found him combining the bluesy and funky characteristics of his twin projects into a seamless style. Now in 2023 he returns with a pair of new songs, “Young and Amorous” and “I Was Thinking.”
“”Young and Amorous” kicks off with a simmering, understated groove, featuring some wah-wah guitar comping. Joined once again by Mikaela Matthews, Ames sings in a voice that conveys both a seen-it-all world weariness and accumulated wisdom. The hypnotic groove established by the guitar is carried forward by the lean rhythm section; the track’s austere production aesthetic features subtle bits of keyboard, but those sounds figure into the mix more as atmosphere. They’re felt more than heard, but their inclusion is key to the song’s overall slow-jam ambiance.
“I Was Thinking” is cut form very different cloth. Here Ames introduces acoustic guitar and a homespun vocal that evokes thoughts of a laid-back front porch bluesman. As hinted at by the title, the song’s lyrics focus upon Ames’ ruminations on the state of the planet. He sings of over-consumption and other societal ills, but that accumulated-wisdom perspective of his telegraphs at least a bit of optimism.
If Patrick Ames’ previous work is any indicator of his future output, listeners should expect more from him in the very near future. Learn more and listen at patrickames.com