Patrick Ames – Like Family – Review

Like Family, Patrick Ames - Like Familythe EP from Americana Singer/Songwriter Patrick Ames, is a study in introspection. The San Francisco-based artist reflects on life, relationships, and purpose. Relying largely on MIDI guitar synth for texture, the EP traces periods of Ames’ life and finds him contemplative but generally content. In his own words: “The EP is dedicated to his mother, and the music is ruckus, joyous, and always flattering with the wildness of live performance.”

Patrick Ames – Like Family

The first song, “I Know What It’s Like”, launches into a steady march that conjures comparisons to The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.”  These similarities vanish as the lyrics begin, with Ames singing: “I know what it’s like, to fight with family,” an example of the relationship analysis which forms the foundation of the EP. As he sings “you can always share your darkest times with me,” he reinforces to the listener the bonds that family and friends share with each other. Backing vocals begin to echo Ames’ repetition of the title phrase, yet despite these small additions, the song does not provide much in the way of climax or crescendo. This is perhaps the only drawback here, as a listener may expect more of a sonic journey than they are given. Still, this does not detract from the message of the music, it only impacts the listening experience, and even then only marginally so.

“Push the Door Open” begins with shimmery, ethereal guitar. The influence of Tom Petty is evident here but not to an extreme, incorporating the vibe without copying. As the drums punch twice the vocals and rhythm section enter the scene. Lyrically the song discusses striving for opportunity in life, “pushing the door open” in pursuit of goals and aspirations. The verse provides a nice contrast to the chorus, temporarily taking out the drums and returning to the shimmery guitar of the intro, this time with vocals. The verse and chorus alternate a few times more, as the sonic layers and emotion begin to grow. As with “I Know What It’s Like”, the climax and structural variety could have been slightly improved, but overall the song is successful in its message of optimism and personal journey.

The final song on the EP, “Robert Mondavi,” begins with piano accompanied by some light-hearted dialogue between Ames and one of his backing vocalists. Together they croon “I wanna be / like Robert Mondavi / spend sunny days with friends and family,” painting the perfect picture of pleasure and recreation. This song really provides a fitting ending to the EP, a mellow sing-along that instantly transports the listener to the end of a hazy but fun night, complete with lyrics about loving family and valuing the small things in life. While the vocalists aren’t exactly synced up evenly, the decision to leave things informal suits the image the music is creating.

All in all, the EP is an emotional ride through struggle, optimism, and love. The experience leaves the listener with the desire to reach out to a distant relative or friend and check up, see how they’re doing. “Like Family” is another great entry in an already great catalogue.

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