While “Still Green” celebrates creative renewal, many of its songs are about coping with loss.
“To me, it describes the whole circle,” she said. “That is, going through a grief, and going to nature, and going to family, and coming back with that sense of life — that sense of green.”
Larkin’s mother died four years ago, and her father died a year ago last week. In addition, her sister recently suffered a stroke during exploratory surgery.
“That’s changed her life,” Larkin said.
The first song on the album, “Best of Intentions,” describes a search for consolation in the face of these challenges.
“The man in the hallway is cleaning up grief,” Larkin sings. “The faithful will always fall back on belief / I wish there was something I could believe to belong.”
She doesn’t steer listeners to doctrines they can lean on but does share a poem she has set to music, “Green Behind the Ears” by Kay Ryan.
Poetic influences are not uncommon in her songs; “Pablo Neruda,” for example, professes love in a romantic spirit inspired by the Chilean poet.
“I am very much influenced by what I read,” she said, “but in particular, the poetry I read and come across, because it is so concise and so dense.”
The Ryan poem is whimsical and humorous in a way that she liked and adds to the meaning of “green” in Larkin’s title.
“I was still slightly / fuzzy in shady spots / and the tenderest lime,” Ryan begins, describing the green of fresh growth.
But the new shoot that opens the poem quickly encounters some growing pains.
“The thing that struck me about that poem is the line, ‘It is / hard to be green and / take your turn as flesh,’” Larkin said. “That act of being human is difficult. It’s a difficult thing to work through loss. Where do you go with your grief?”
IF YOU GO What: Patty Larkin in concert, with opener Scott Alarik When: Friday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m. Where: Me & Thee Coffeehouse, 28 Mugford St., Marblehead Tickets: $22 in advance, $25 at the door. Information: 781-631-8987 or www.meandthee.org