Gretchen Peters — Gretchen Peters
Ξ Known as a writer of intelligent and introspective songs in the country/folk/pop vein, Gretchen Peters achieved renown through country stars covering her material.
Born: November 14, 1957 in Bronxville, NY
Location: Nashville, TN
Album release: 9 February 2015
Record Label: Hello Cruel World/Scarlet Letter Records
01. Blackbirds 4:33
02. Pretty Things 5:03
03. When All You Got Is A Hammer 3:48
04. Everything Falls Away 4:07
05. The House on Auburn Street 5:23
06. When You Comin’ Home 2:59
07. Jubilee 4:48
08. Black Ribbons 4:56
09. Nashville 4:51
10. The Cure For The Pain 4:13
11. Blackbirds (reprise) 4:49
∩ Ben Glover / Gretchen Peters 1, 2, 6
∩ Matraca Berg / Suzy Bogguss / Gretchen Peters 8
∩ David Mead 9
• Matraca Berg Composer, Vocals
• Suzy Bogguss Composer, Vocals
• Nick Buda Drums
• Jerry Douglas Dobro, Guitar
• Ben Glover Composer, Guitar (Acoustic)
• David Henry Cello, Violin
• Jason Isbell Vocals
• Will Kimbrough Banjo, Charango, Guitar (Acoustic), Mandola, Mandolin
• Jimmy LaFave Duet, Vocals
• Doug Lancio Banjo, Bass, Drums, Guitar (12 String), Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Guitar (Electric Baritone), Percussion, Producer
• Taylor Lowrence Vocals
• David Mead Composer, Vocals
• Gretchen Peters Composer, Guitar (Acoustic), Producer
• Mickey Raphael Harmonica
• Kim Richey Vocals
• Dave Roe Bass, Bass (Upright)
• Barry Walsh Accordion, Organ, Piano, Producer, Pump Organ
Ξ Fresh off her induction into the prestigious Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Gretchen Peters has confirmed the 9th February release of her new album 'Blackbirds.' Ξ Co–produced with Doug Lancio and Barry Walsh and recorded in Nashville, the album features a who's who of modern American roots music: Jerry Douglas, Jason Isbell, Jimmy LaFave, Will Kimbrough, Kim Richey, Suzy Bogguss and more. But it's not the guests that make 'Blackbirds' the most poignant and moving album of the GRAMMY–nominee's storied career; it’s the impeccable craftsmanship, her ability to capture the kind of complex, conflicting, and overwhelming emotional moments we might otherwise try to hide and instead shine a light of truth and understanding onto them.
Ξ The eleven tracks on 'Blackbirds' face down death with a dark grit and delicate beauty. "During the summer of 2013 when I began writing songs for 'Blackbirds,' there was one week when I went to three memorial services and a wedding," remembers Peters. "It dawned on me that this is the way it goes as you get older — the memorial services start coming with alarming frequency and the weddings are infrequent and thus somehow more moving."
Ξ She found herself drawn to artists courageous enough to face their own aging and mortality in their work (Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Nick Lowe), but noticed all the material was coming from a male perspective. "As brave an artistic risk as it may be for a man, it’s much riskier for a woman to speak about it," says Peters, whose incredible catalogue of songs — including "Independence Day" and "On A Bus To St. Cloud" — have been recorded by everyone from Martina McBride and Neil Diamond to Etta James and Trisha Yearwood. "Aging seems to be a taboo subject for female singer–songwriters, in part because our value has depended so much on our youth and sexuality. I want to write about that stuff because it’s real, it’s there, and so few women seem to be talking about it."
Ξ In an atypical and unexpectedly rewarding move, Peters teamed with frequent tour–mate Ben Glover to co–write several tunes on the new album, which evokes the kind of 1970's folk rock of Neil Young, David Crosby, and Joni Mitchell that Peters grew up on, albeit with a more haunted, country–noir vibe simmering just below the surface.
Ξ Geographically, the album leaps around the country, with particularly heartrending stops in southern Louisiana at the scene of a crime ("Blackbirds"), Pelham, New York, where Peters probes the hidden darkness of the leafy suburbia in which she grew up ("The House On Auburn Street"), and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where a fisherman lays his wife to rest after losing everything in the BP oil spill ("Black Ribbons"). "When All You Got Is A Hammer" is the story of a veteran struggling to adjust to life at home after fighting overseas, while "The Cure For The Pain" takes place in the waning days of illness in a hospital, and "Nashville" brings us back to Peters' adopted hometown.
Ξ Despite the varied locations, the songs on 'Blackbirds' are all inextricably tied together through their characters, whom Peters paints with extraordinary empathy and vivid detail.
'Blackbirds' follows Peters' 2012 album 'Hello Cruel World,' which NPR called "the album of her career" and Uncut said "establishes her as the natural successor to Lucinda Williams." If anything, though, 'Blackbirds' truly establishes Peters as a one–of–a–kind singer and songwriter, one in possession of a fearless and endlessly creative voice. :: http://www.prescriptionmusicpruk.com/
Artist Biography by Jack Leaver
Ξ Known as a writer of intelligent and introspective songs in the country/folk/pop vein, Gretchen Peters achieved renown through country stars covering her material. Ξ Among the artists to have hits with her songs were Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis, George Strait, Martina McBride, and Patty Loveless. Peters was born in Westchester County, New York, and lived there until her parents divorced when she was eight, at which point she moved with her mother to Boulder, Colorado, where, as a teenager, she wrote songs and performed in the town's thriving live music scene. She moved to Nashville in 1988 and signed several writing deals before moving to Sony in 1992. Having written a string of critically acclaimed hits, Peters received her first Grammy nomination for Song of the Year in 1995 for "Independence Day" (recorded by McBride), her powerful anthem about a women who fights back against an abusive husband. At the Country Music Awards that year, the song took home the same award, as well as a CMA Video of the Year in 1994. She was nominated again for a Song of the Year Grammy in 1996 with the Loveless chart–topper "You Don't Even Know Who I Am." Peters' scope wasn't limited to the country music arena, as she demonstrated by co–writing "Rock Steady" with rock artist Bryan Adams — a song that appeared on Bonnie Raitt's Road Tested. Peters released her debut album, The Secret of Life, on Imprint Records in 1996. Her self–titled sophomore effort was issued five years later. The impressive Burnt Toast & Offerings appeared in 2007. She released a seasonal offering called Northern Lights, which featured non–traditional material of her own as well as covers. In 2009, she collaborated with Tom Russell on One to the Heart, One to the Head, and released a best–of collection entitled Circus Girl — all while touring incessantly. 2011 saw the release of the live DVD Wine, Women and Song with pals Suzy Bogguss and Matraca Berg. Peters released a studio album of her own new material in January, 2012 entitled Hello Cruel World.
Ξ In October of 2014, Peters was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame. In February of 2015, she released Blackbirds, an album of new material co–produced with guitarist Doug Lancio and keyboardist Barry Walsh. Issued on her Scarlet Letter Records label, it featured guest appearances from Jerry Douglas, Jason Isbell, Kim Richey, Jimmy LaFave, and Suzy Bogguss.
BY STEPHEN L. BETTS, November 3, 2014
Ξ Newly–inducted Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Gretchen Peters has set a February 2015 release date for her next album, Blackbirds. Special guests joining the singer–songwriter on the project include Jerry Douglas, Jason Isbell, Jimmy LaFave, Will Kimbrough, Kim Richey and Suzy Bogguss.
Ξ Peters — who has penned such classic tunes as Martina McBride's "Independence Day" and Faith Hill's "The Secret of Life" — explores the themes of mortality and aging on the new LP. Its 11 tracks were inspired by a coincidental series of events she experienced last year.
Ξ "During the summer of 2013, when I began writing songs for Blackbirds, there was one week when I went to three memorial services and a wedding," Peters recalls. "It dawned on me that this is the way it goes as you get older — the memorial services start coming with alarming frequency and the weddings are infrequent and thus somehow more moving."
Ξ Although drawn to classic works on the same subject matter by such iconic tunesmiths as Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Nick Lowe, Peters found she wanted to explore the topic from the female perspective.
Ξ "As brave and artistic risk as it may be for a man, it’s much riskier for a woman to speak about it," she says. "Aging seems to be a taboo subject for female singer–songwriters, in part because our value has depended so much on our youth and sexuality. I want to write about that stuff because it’s real, it’s there, and so few women seem to be talking about it."
Ξ Several of the songs on Blackbirds were written with her frequent tourmate, Ben Glover, and hearken back to the Seventies–era Neil Young and Joni Mitchell folk–rock of her youth, telling dark, layered tales of suburbia and intimate stories of loss and survival. Ξ http://www.rollingstone.com/
Review by Thom Jurek; Score: ****½
Pic.: Gretchen Peters performs at the Cambridge Folk Festival on July 27, 2012. Philip Ryalls/Redferns