This article originally appeared in the Kentucky Kernel.
Wearing her emotions on her sleeve, Portland’s Esmé Patterson hopes to provide a pleasant distraction from the divisiveness invading everyday life, offering up a beacon of hope for all. Patterson associates her passion for music with being raised in a musical household where she began tinkering with instruments and listening to old R&B records at a young age.
“I can’t remember a time I wasn’t involved in music,” Patterson said. “It’s always been a part of my life.”
In 2006, Patterson and her sister Genevieve teamed up with another sibling duo, Mark and Sarah Anderson, in Denver to start the indie folk group Paper Bird. The band shared the stage with the likes of The Lumineers, Hall & Oates and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros before Patterson split from the group in 2012 to continue her solo career, which she’d been writing music for since 2010.
Patterson’s solo outfit adapts many of the folk-centric sounds and influences from Paper Birds with edgier rock vibes that the artist picked up on after moving north to Portland, resulting in intimate songs with peaks and valleys that take listeners on an emotional journey from start to finish.
“Moving to Portland was really wonderful for me because I got to see a lot of women in their psychedelic rock ’n’ roll scene who are complete shredders,” Patterson said. “I remember thinking ‘I’ve got to get a lot better at guitar to play shows in this town.’”
To date, Patterson has released three solo records, the most recent being 2016s “We Were Wild”. According to Patterson, the record is about her own personal journey of finding power and understanding limitations and restrictions on ourselves in order to break through them to become truly free.
Prior to “We Were Wild”, Patterson garnered considerable coverage in 2014 with the release of her concept album “Woman to Woman”, providing her idea of the female experience. On the record Patterson responds to Townes Van Zandt’s “Loretta”, The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” and others classics, stressing the female character’s perspective and offering a truthful experience of being female, giving character’s that previously lacked a voice one of their own.
Patterson is currently on tour with country-punk rockers Lucero, who will be performing at Manchester Music Hall on Saturday, March 4. Music begins at 9 p.m. and tickets are $20.
“I’m just whispering to people’s hearts and hoping that they will open them, even for a moment to each other and to themselves… We’re just driving around the country trying to get people to open their hearts,” Patterson said. “It seems like it’s working.”