Since splitting from the Denver-bred band Paper Bird in 2014, Esmé Patterson has established herself as a formidable singer-songwriter, both unassuming and challenging, pleasant and provocative. Her last album, “Woman to Woman,” took legendary pop songs written by men and reversed their narratives to create all new songs, turning flat female characters into fuller human beings. For her latest, “We Were Wild,” Patterson turns the lens back onto herself, reflecting on her own quest to become more fully human.
You’ve said about this album that “A lot of these songs were lessons my heart was giving my mind.” And usually we’re told that our mind needs to discipline our hearts, so I wonder what that meant for you.
I feel like the way that the mind sees the world is not necessarily the true way, for me, a lot of the time. There were moments when I felt with my heart before I could understand what I was doing. And my brain had to catch up!
I can see the ups and downs of that idea running through the songs on this record. The opener, “Feels Right”, is about how everyone wants to feel right, but you also ask, how do you know? And on “Guadalupe”, you say, “Heaven is in your heart,” but also, there’s “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin’,” where your heart is set, but someone else doesn’t give back what you hoped for.
I had had some experiences where that was very disappointing... And so, in the song “Guadalupe," I was trying to learn how to give myself what I needed, rather than depending on someone else for that. And the song “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin’’” was when I realized that I needed to learn how to do that.
I have to bring up the cover of “We Were Wild,” which when you fold out the front and back of the LP, is you holding yourself on a leash. And since the title of the album is in past tense, I wonder if you’re saying something’s been domesticated.
Absolutely… [The image] means everything that everyone thinks it means. The part that frustrates me is when women told me about it being irresponsible… But the idea for me is a struggle with being my own captor and my own liberator. And once we realize these bounds that we put ourselves in, we’re free.
IF YOU GO:
July 23, 1:05 p.m.
Xponential Music Festival, Camden Waterfront
$70-$296, all ages, http://bit.ly/1CsYnO6
July 26, 9 p.m.
Great Scott, 1222 Comm. Ave., Allston
$10-$12, 18+, http://bit.ly/1rtAODB
July 27, 9 p.m.
Rough Trade, 64 N. 9th St., Brooklyn
$12, 21+, http://bit.ly/1PkZycx