Punk. Poet. Photographer. Novelist. Artist. Patti Smith is a lot of things – or, rather, a lot of things are Patti Smith. Truly the sum of her parts, you get the sense that her output is the physical manifestation of who she is, her essence brought to life through her creations.
Her first album of original music since 2004’s Trampin’, Banga is Smith’s vision of the world in 2012, but also presents to the world who Patti Smith is at this moment in time. She is, it seems, in contemplative, reflective and mellow mood, addressing a multitude of subjects, from the Japanese earthquake (Fuji-san) to Johnny Depp’s birthday (Nine).
As eccentric, interesting and iconoclastic as ever, then, but the actual music is lacking Smith’s usual edge, spark and vitality. This Is The Girl, for example, is a sweet, elegiac, 50s-esque but rather banal waltz addressing Amy Winehouse’s death – and which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Winehouse album – while the abstruse, experimental spoken word Tarkovsky (The Second Stop Is Jupiter) is almost Patti Smithby- numbers. That’s no bad thing, of course, but when placed next to her exceptional canon of work, it will inevitably fall short.