What does it sound like?:
I know there are a lot of Gretchen fans on here and I guess a few will be disappointed that her latest release is a tribute to Mickey Newbury rather than a collection of self-penned songs. This review intends to dispel any fears you may have.What you get with any new Gretchen album is one of the best female voices around, great musical backing and fantastic songs. You have all of these elements except that she is interpreting another great songwriters efforts. Mickey Newbury had something of a cult following whilst he was alive but like many others his reputation increased after his untimely death.
Firstly I have to say that Gretchen’s voice has matured like a fine wine. If I think back to songs such as On a Bus to St.Cloud or Independence day – her voice had a sweetness and hadnt yet developed the timbre that she now has. It has a huskiness that didnt previously exist and it suits her and the songs.
In listening to these songs it is clear that they were a big influence on her own songs – if you take songs like Frisco Depot or San Francisco Mabel Joy you can easily imagine they are her own words.
This album has been many years in the development apparently and to my ears it sounds like a real labour of love. Husband Barry Walsh leads the musicians well and the instrumentation is never intrusive and fits perfectly. His accordion on the title track is subtle but adds greatly to the song. Elsewhere Chrlie McCoy adds fantastic harmonica. Buddy Miller pops up on harmony vocals and so too Kim Richey.
Highlights for me are Frisco depot, the opener The Sailor and the title track. However the absolute best is the penultimate song St.Cecelia – a song I was unaware of. Gretchen Peters sang the definitive version of the Tom Russell song Guadalupe. St.Cecilia is similar in construction and subject matter. If Mickey Newbury influenced Tom Russell as well as Gretchen Peters then he has left a fine legacy. Don’t know if there will be many better releases this year in the female singer songwriter field – this is a very good release indeed.
What does it all *mean*?
Quality songwriting in USA and Canada has been around for a very long time – good to see that current artists promote their influences in the form of tributes like this.
Goes well with…
A glass of wine, sit back on the sofa and let it draw you in. It is perfect summer evening music.
Might suit people who like…
Gretchen, Tom Russell, Mary Chapin Carpenter and countless other American singer songwriters.