Craig Havighurst
April 23, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

On 2002’s ”1000 Kisses,” Patty Griffin leavened her literary melancholy with unforgettably luminous music. Her new album, Impossible Dream, while starkly beautiful, casts a darker spell. ”Cold as It Gets” is windswept and bitter, and the piercing ”Top of the World” comes off harsher than the hit Dixie Chicks version. While Griffin’s woodwind alto sounds best singing of dreams that have a chance of coming true, she makes even gloomy folk ravishing.

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