she's beautiful, to say the least. One of her albums has an epigraph from Goethe. She sings in English, Gaelic, and on occasion the Cajun French of her native Lafayette, Louisiana. Sometimes her lyrics are tough going, but often enough she hits the spot with a line that hangs in your head: "It was a cobra-mongoose war of wills" and "We meet ourselves with doglike devotion / Catch fleeting tail in the mouth of emotion."
At the center of Patterson's sound is the Irish bouzouki, which she plays in eight- and ten-string versions. The bouzouki, which the Irish revivalists of the 1960s picked up from Greek rebetika music and made their own, serves Patterson as a similar stylistic hinge: it becomes the basis for a big sound that's Celtic in flavor but not in detail and allows for excursions into other styles. Patterson is at her best when she matches Irish dance rhythms to her own distinctive lyrics in an original way.