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Esme Patterson Talks About Small Songs with Big Hearts

The Olympic, Thursday, Oct. 11

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She would rather talk about the weather. In fact, while on the road, Denver, Colorado-based singer-songwriter Esme Patterson often does.

"I find it strange that people find [talking about the weather] boring, like it's a cliche. Weather affects everyone at the same time, the mathematics of it are really cool—the weather systems are fractals. It's interesting and powerful," she said.

Across three solo albums and several more with her former band, Paper Bird, Patterson has written and performed songs about mundane things that reveal personal truths, but in the last few years, she has noticed tension in the voices of the people she meets on tour. On her most recent album, We Were Wild (XTra Mile Recordings, 2016), that tension bled into her lyrics. In "Feel Right," she sings, "No one wants to feel nothing that don't feel right."

"That was something I wrote after reading about police brutality," Patterson said.

She and her sister, Genevieve, got their start playing rhythm and blues together, but later formed the indie-folk band Paper Bird with some friends in Denver in 2006. The band became the darling of its scene, receiving critical and popular acclaim. It toured widely, playing in Boise several times since 2008, including at Treefort Music Fest, but Esme embarked on a solo career in 2014 when it was clear she couldn't be in the band and tour independently at the same time.

Four years later, Esme is working on a new album set for release in 2019. For this album, she'll lay down her guitar and use a more diverse palette of sounds to cut higher-energy tracks than much of her previous work.

"I was, like, '[Expletive], I want to make dancing music!'" she said.

Esme will play at The Olympic on Thursday, Oct. 11. She said her backing band of fellow Denverites breathes new life into her songs in a distinctly Esme Pattersonian way.

"I've seen a lot of bands tour where the show sounds just like the record, and I just wish that they would kind of do a reinterpretation," Esme said. "I really love the reinterpretation of the music that is only possible to see and make live."