Whatever the provenance of the mythical mojo, Gretchen Peters has certainly got hers working on Hello Cruel World, her ninth album (including One To The Heart, One To The Head, a collaboration with Tom Russell). Not just a songwriting masterclass, it’s also a model of studio restraint and proof, if proof were needed, that Peters merits mention in the same breath as Rosanne Cash, Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter. With melodies that won’t let you go, there’s both poetry and candour in the language.
Take ‘Woman On The Wheel’, an exploration of the nature of art: ‘So it’s on with the show, send in the clowns and the trapeze act/It’s more of the same and it’s less of a game than a cold hard fact/Most times it’s better not to ask myself how I feel/I’m just a woman on the wheel’. Or ‘Dark Angel’, a duet with Rodney Crowell – ‘And if there is no hereafter/And there is only here/Life is still a beautiful disaster/Ah, but we both know that my dear’.
There are so many moments here that make you hold your breath in case you miss something profound, so many moments that make you wait to exhale – ‘Saint Francis’, ‘The Matador’ and ‘Idlewild’ among them.
from the March/April 2012 issue of R2 magazine