Patrick Sky

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Patrick Sky's last 1960s album might have been his best, and was a slightly more effective move into contemporary folk-rock/singer/songwriter music than his first effort for Verve (Reality Is Bad Enough), though few people heard either LP. The accent was on melancholy story-songs and somewhat abstract poetry, the forms sometimes mixing a little. In these respects, the pieces bear resemblance to and influences from early Bob Dylan and late-'60s Phil Ochs, though the melodies and wordplay aren't nearly as striking as the ones devised by those major figures. The folk-rock element in the arrangements was light, leaving the impression of barely garnished folk music with unobtrusive drums and touches of cello, strings, accordion, and the like. The somber story-songs are the ones most prevalent on the album, with "Dirge to Love Gone By" a ham-handed narration of an abortion in which the mother ends up dying in a prison cell. That might betray Sky's roots in the earnest hand-wringing of the '60s folk boom. But there's some variety here with a bit of country and ragtime flavor (with David Bromberg contributing some lead guitar), and "Who Am I?" sounds rather like very early Townes Van Zandt in its stark moodiness, though Van Zandt was better. No Sky album was complete without ill-advised detours into unfunny vaudevillian comedy at odds with the tone of much of his other material, but here at least this was limited to one song, "The Greater Manhattan Love Song." That number was written by one Gary White, and though Sky composed most of the tracks, there were a couple of other covers in Lonnie Irving's country novelty "Pinball Machine" and fellow folk-rock singer/songwriter David Blue's "I Like to Sleep Late in the Morning."