“I don’t know why I have this attraction to characters who’ve seen a lot of s–t,” Gretchen Peters tells The Boot. She’s speaking to media in advance of her new album, Dancing With the Beasta project that grapples with themes of darkness, death and female characters who — particularly as they age — go unheard and unseen.

“A month after the election, I lost my mom, and I also lost a couple of friends during that time,” Peters shares. “It was just a season of grief and loss. I sat in it for a while, and then, in 2017, I decided it was time to start writing again.

“But how do you write in this time that we’re in? You can’t not write about it; it’s everywhere, it’s pervasive,” she continues. “I’m not a political writer; I’m a storyteller. I knew I wasn’t going to write an album of protest songs, so how do I express the anxiety and grief and anger that I’m feeling and still do it in a meaningful way?”

To read this interview in its entirety, visit The Boot.

9 stars of 10

Gretchen Peters consistently raises the bar and somehow manages to surpass it with each album.  Her previous outing, 2015’s Blackbirds won the International Roots Album of the Year. This time she retains many of the same backing musicians and co-writers but focuses on female characters from teenage girls to old women to deliver another masterpiece. Peters proves yet again on Dancing with the Beast that she is today’s most vivid, detailed songwriter. She is uncanny at transforming simple thoughts or images into song. “The pictures and details come first, and I think that’s kind of necessary because they’re sort of like little bombs of emotion,” she says. “It’s like when you pull out a Polaroid that you haven’t seen in 25 years, and your heart just kind of explodes because it brings back a whole world.”

To read this review in its entirety, visit Glide Magazine.

In every song on this riveting, elegiac album, a person is caught up in emotion because of events, or, in the case of “Arguing With Ghosts”, an absence of events. Peters realises, therefore, that her first task is to act the songs, and her second, to sing them. These are a series of one-act plays, but more compact and with more disciplined constructions.

This is a dark album, to put it mildly, with songs that manage, with deft use of language, to cram a whole epic into three minutes. It’s astonishingly good writing – accessible without pandering. These are American stories from a writer who views the world with a marked abundance of compassion.

To read this review in its entirety, visit Pop Matters.

 

Dancing With the Beast is an album of incredible humanity and depth, and listening to it requires the same mental engagement and emotional investment as reading a short story collection. As such, Dancing With the Beast can be a tough listen. Yet on days when your spirit is properly attuned to the everyday struggles, tragedies, and moments of grace her 11 women experience, this record’s an immersive, rewarding listen.

To read this review in its entirety, visit No Depression.

I sat down with Chuck Dauphin recently to talk about Dancing With The Beast, songs and songwriting. The interview at Music Update Central has just been published.

“I have very distinct and vivid memories of being fourteen and fifteen years old and just the awakening and awareness that happens. Being with my friends, teenage girls, and this kind of disorienting competition that gets set up. I think for girls it’s a treacherous time of adolescence I really wanted to write something about that because I remember feeling like the ground was shifting under me and feeling that my friends were in competition for boys, and why did I feel suddenly as though I was being judged externally rather than internally. What was all that about? When you’re fourteen and fifteen old, that’s hard stuff to figure out.”

To read this interview in its entirety, visit Music Update Central.

9 stars out of 10

… it is quite amazing that someone can continuously turn out songs of this quality. This new album, ‘Dancing With The Beast’, is her first recording of all new material since 2016’s ‘Blackbirds’, which won her an Americana Music Association UK award for International Album of the Year as well as International Song of the Year for the title track. This new album is every bit as good.

To read this review in its entirety, visit Americana UK.

I had a long and interesting chat with writer Malcolm Wyatt recently; we talked about Dancing With The Beast, politics, Nashville, vinyl records and lots of other things. An excerpt:

“I listen for characters, I listen for voices, I listen for titles, and the voices that were the loudest in my head when I was writing these songs were these girls and women, so those were the stories I chose to write. But when I look back on it, I’ve been doing that for 25 to 30 years, going back to Independence Day and probably going back further… those characters inspire me. They’re heroic. These women I’ve written about, some of them almost feel like my best friends, my guardian angels. They’re heroic in very quiet, almost stoic ways, but they capture my imagination. That’s why they stay in my head and that’s why their songs get written.”

To read this interview in its entirety, visit Malcolm Wyatt’s blog.

When did you know a life in music was for you?

I was in my late teens, still trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Making a living as a musician didn’t really occur to me, oddly enough – although music was already all-consuming for me. It was a boyfriend, and later other friends, who took me aside and said, ‘you know you could really do this for a living’. Once that idea was planted in my head I never looked back. I made a half-hearted attempt at going to university, but I was already playing in the bars by then, which was much more fun.

You can read the article in its entirety at Nottingham Post.

…the resulting songs can be found on forthcoming album ‘Dancing with the Beast,’ which will be released May 18. The record is 50 minutes of exquisite-sounding emotional devastation, depression, murder and heartbreak, the usual subject matter for Peters, whose merchandise is emblazoned with the motto ‘Sad Songs Make Me Happy.’

“Those kind of songs are the ones that just kept my life force going from when I was eight years old to now,” she said. “I guess that imprints on your DNA somehow.”

I recently sat down with Juli Thanki of The Tennessean to talk about the songs on Dancing With The Beast. To read the article in its entirety, you can view it at The Tennessean’s website.