After years of silence, Patti Smith returned to music with a series of concerts in late 1995. It had been years since she had performed live -- for most of the '80s and '90s, she concentrated on domestic life. Following the death of her husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, in early 1995, Smith began playing music in public again and those concerts eventually led to the triumphant comeback Gone Again. Her husband wasn't the only loved one Smith lost between 1988's Dream of Life and 1996's Gone Again -- her brother and her close friend Robert Mapplethorpe both died. Appropriately, grief and loss hang over Gone Again, but the overall effect is not one of indulgent melancholy. Instead, it's a sober but strengthing listen -- this is healing optimistic music. Like most of Smith's best work, the songs on Gone Again aren't proper songs, they're song poems, with cascading music and dense, inspired lyrics. Smith sounds more mature than her earlier records -- there are only a handful of out-and-out rockers, and most of the album is subtle and folky -- which gives the album extra weight. Gone Again is more than a comeback, it's a revitalization -- Patti Smith simply hasn't sound so engaged and provocative since Easter.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine