PETERS - HELLO CRUEL WORLD
known as songwriter than performer in a genre that still likes
to separate the two out, Gretchen Peters has nonetheless recorded
several albums in the last fifteen years, though this is the first
one to come my way. And it’s pretty impressive stuff –
less country than Americana, if you care to make that distinction,
with a collection of acoustically driven, quiet, insular explorations
that has an emotional honesty that is admirable.
The result is an album of genuine beauty, where music and lyrics
combine with Peters’ pitch-perfect delivery to create something
pretty special. If the opening title track is a song of defiance,
then others like Saint Francis and Five
Minutes are haunting explorations of mortality and human
frailty. Paradise Found is a bluesy, none-too-subtle
celebration of sexuality, while Woman on the Wheel
uses the persona of a circus performer to explore fears about
relationships and the future. Natural Disaster
mixes a tale of environmental and emotional chaos and the damage
that both can do.
These are just a few moments from an album that is pretty much
flawless – albeit one that is sometimes almost too raw for
comfort. But if you admire honesty over superficiality, then you
will find much to admire here.
On Dark Angel, a duet with Rodney Crowell that
celebrates life over promises of an afterlife, Peters sings “life
is still a beautiful disaster”, and one worth living.
Can’t argue with that, and records this good make that living
a lot more pleasurable.
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