Downtown Church

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Downtown Church
Patty Griffin - Downtown Church cover.jpg
Studio album by Patty Griffin
Released January 26, 2010
Recorded January 2009
Genre Gospel
Length 47:01
Label Credential Recordings
Producer Buddy Miller
Patty Griffin chronology
Children Running Through
Downtown Church
American Kid

Downtown Church is the sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Patty Griffin, released on January 26, 2010, by Credential Recordings, a Christian label distributed by EMI.[1][2] The album was recorded in Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville and features different styles. Griffin has stated that she recorded the album to explore her feelings about religion. The album debuted at number 38 on the Billboard 200 and topped the Billboard Christian Albums and Folk Albums charts. The critical response was "generally favorable".[3] On December 1, 2010, the album received a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Gospel Album. On February 13, 2011, Downtown Church won the Grammy for Best Traditional Gospel Album. This was Patty Griffin's first Grammy award, after previously being nominated for Best Contemporary/Folk Americana Album for Children Running Through in 2007.

Background and recording[edit]

Griffin has stated that she did not have a background in gospel music before recording Downtown Church.[4] She had appeared on the 2009 compilation Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration in a duet with Mavis Staples.[5] Peter York, president of the EMI Christian Music Group, suggested Griffin record a gospel album, and she agreed under the condition that Buddy Miller work as producer.[4] Miller agreed and found the Downtown Presbyterian Church, Nashville, after which the album was named, and where the album was recorded in January 2009.[4][6] The album was recorded in collaboration with Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, gospel group The Fairfield Four, Jim Lauderdale, Raul Malo, Mike Farris, and Julie Miller.[1][5][6] The recording took five days, one day rehearsal and four days playing, and was described as sometimes exhausting.[7]

Downtown Church consists of cover songs, traditional songs, and original songs by Griffin, and Billboard has described the album as a "gospel-style record" influenced by traditional country music and blues.[5] Griffin stated that the album was an attempt to familiarize pop fans with gospel music and that she intentionally used different styles to "mix it up".[4][7] A Spanish hymn, "Virgen de Guadalupe", was suggested by Michael Ramos, a member of Griffin's band.[4] Griffin stated that she had listened to Christian songs by Bob Dylan, but failed to connect to them, and wrote her songs partly in reaction to their certainty and her ambivalence about rigid doctrine.[4] She told National Public Radio that she was "working through complicated feelings about religion" and recorded the album to explore them.[6] Griffin described her original song "Coming Home to Me" as sharing a recurring theme of her music, loneliness and connection, and being about "what really goes on inside, deep down".[4] The final song, "All Creatures of Our God and King" is based on Francis of Assisi.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[8]
American Songwriter 4/5 stars[9]
Associated Baptist Press (favorable)[10]
Associated Press (favorable)[2]
The A.V. Club B+[11]
Austin American-Statesman B+[12]
The Austin Chronicle 3.5/4 stars[13]
Detroit Free Press 4/4 stars[14]
Paste 74[15]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[1]
The Star-Ledger (favorable)[16]
USA Today 3.5/4 stars[17]

The album was favorably reviewed by Slant Magazine reviewer Jonathan Keefe who praised Griffin as a natural fit for the songs and passionate "that even a nonbeliever can get on board".[1] Jim Caligiuri of The Austin Chronicle called the album "haunting and original" and described the new direction compared to Griffin's previous album as a "gutsy move".[13] Michael McCall of the Associated Press described the album as a "stunningly powerful and compassionate work".[2] Kyle Matthews of the Associated Baptist Press noted that the album was cohesive despite a variety of styles and praised the song selection as "beyond stereotypes".[10] Martin Bandyke of the Detroit Free Press called the album "uplifting and utterly majestic".[14] Michael Corcora of the Austin American-Statesman praised Griffin as an "amazingly athletic singer" but criticized the album as "often divinely stirring" but lacking "a deep spiritual core".[12] Noel Murray of The A.V. Club remarked on the choice of unconventional songs "I Smell A Rat", "Death's Got A Warrant", and "Virgen De Guadalupe" and described the album as "heartfelt", but "a little generic at times".[11] Gage Henry of Paste stated that the album had "drastic turns" and praised Griffin's sentiment.[15] Jewly Hight of American Songwriter praised the album and argued that the album had no "flat performances".[9] David Belcher of the New York Times described the album as a "celebration" that was subtle but sometimes "foot-stomping".[7] Jerry Shriver of USA Today praised the restraint and versatility of the album.[17] Andrew Whitman of Christianity Today called the album "surprisingly diverse and beautifully sung" but argued that the secular "I Smell a Rat" did not fit with the religious material.[18] Jay Lustig of The Star-Ledger described the album as "pop-folk-gospel fusion" and noted that the album includes songs that are slow, quick, mellow, and blunt.[16] Mark Deming of Allmusic stated that Downtown Church was one of a string of good albums Griffin made since 1996 and was appealing "regardless of [one's] religious convictions".[8]


The album won a Dove Award for Inspirational Album of the Year at the 42nd GMA Dove Awards.[19]

Track listing[edit]

The album contains seven traditional songs, five cover songs, and two original songs.[20]

  1. "House of Gold" (Hank Williams) – 2:53
  2. "Move Up" (traditional) – 2:44
  3. "Little Fire" (Griffin) – 4:07
  4. "Death's Got a Warrant" (traditional) – 1:44
  5. "If I Had My Way" (traditional) – 3:24
  6. "Coming Home to Me" (Griffin) – 3:33
  7. "Wade in the Water" (traditional) – 3:08
  8. "Never Grow Old" (traditional) – 3:11
  9. "Virgen de Guadalupe" (traditional) – 3:32
  10. "I Smell a Rat" (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) – 2:31
  11. "Waiting for My Child" (Sullivan Pugh) – 4:16
  12. "The Strange Man" (Dorothy Love Coates) – 3:38
  13. "We Shall All Be Reunited" (A. Karnes and B. Bateman) – 4:11
  14. "All Creatures of Our God and King" (traditional) – 4:17


  • Patty Griffin – vocals
  • Buddy Miller – production, mixing, guitar, vocals
  • Jim DeMain – mastering
  • Mike Poole – engineering
  • Gordon Hammond – assistance with engineering
  • Kathi Whitley - production coordination
  • Maple Byrne - production assistance
  • Dennis Crouch – bass
  • Jay Bellerose – drums
  • Doug Lancio – guitar
  • Stuart Duncan – fiddle
  • John Deaderick – piano
  • John Catchings – cello
  • Bryan Owings – percussion
  • Russ Pahl – pedal steel guitar
  • Emmylou Harris – vocals
  • Raul Malo – vocals
  • Jim Lauderdale – vocals
  • Shawn Colvin – vocals
  • Mike Farris – vocals
  • Julie Miller – vocals
  • Regina McCrary – vocals
  • Ann McCrary – vocals

Chart positions[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Keefe, Jonathan (January 21, 2010). "Patty Griffin: Downtown Church". Slant Magazine. Retrieved January 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c McCall, Michael (January 25, 2010). "Review: Patty Griffin Delivers Glorious Gospel CD". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Downtown Church reviews". 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Whitman, Andy (January 26, 2010). "'Mongrel Gospel'". Christianity Today. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c Ayers, Michael D. (January 8, 2010). "Patty Griffin ventures into gospel with new album". Billboard. Reuters. Retrieved January 22, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c See, Elena (January 15, 2010). "First Listen: Patty Griffin's 'Downtown Church'". National Public Radio. Retrieved January 22, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d Belcher, David (January 26, 2010). "A Love of Gospel Music, a Wish to Spread It Around". The New York Times. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Deming, Mark. "Downtown Church". Allmusic. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Hight, Jewly (January 26, 2010). "PATTY GRIFFIN > Downtown Church". American Songwriter. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b Matthews, Kyle (January 25, 2010). "Music Review: Patty Griffin's 'Downtown Church'". Associated Baptist Press. Archived from the original on January 28, 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Murray, Noel (January 26, 2010). "Patty Griffin: Downtown Church". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  12. ^ a b Corcoran, Michael (January 25, 2010). "CD review: Patty Griffin 'Downtown Church'". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b Caligiuri, Jim (January 15, 2010). "Patty Griffin - Downtown Church (Credential)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved January 22, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Bandyke, Martin (January 10, 2010). "Ringo's CD delights; but why wouldn't it?". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved January 25, 2010. [dead link]
  15. ^ a b Henry, Gage (January 25, 2010). "Patty Griffin: Downtown Church". Paste. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b Lustig, Jay (January 28, 2010). "Patty Griffin's new pop-folk-gospel album a gem". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved January 31, 2010. 
  17. ^ a b Shriver, Jerry (January 26, 2010). "Listen Up: High marks for Lady Antebellum's 'Need You Now'". USA Today. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  18. ^ Whitman, Andrew (January 2010). "Patty Griffin: Downtown Church". Christianity Today. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  19. ^ 42nd Annual GMA Dove Awards Nominees Archived July 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. on
  20. ^ Downtown Church (CD booklet). Patty Griffin. Credential Recordings. 2010. 5099969344329. 
  21. ^ "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved February 12, 2010. 

External links[edit]