Review: Gretchen Peters, Glee Club, by Peter Palmer
Modern American songwriters with a country music slant to their singing draw generally modest audiences. Since she first toured the UK, 16 years ago, Colorado-reared Gretchen Peters has been no exception.
But partly thanks to BBC Radio 2, her captivating lyrics and mesmeric vocal skills are now gaining her the British audiences she deserves. The turnout for the final gig of her latest tour helped make it a finale to remember.
Many would regard her ninth album as her finest so far. Sombre and in her own words “brutally honest,” but at the same time a celebration of human powers of survival. In the impassioned Dark Angel, life is embraced as “still a beautiful disaster.” Paradise Found also expressed Gretchen’s personal creed in no uncertain terms.
And title song Hello Cruel World, The Matador, Woman On The Wheel and the childhood memories of Idlewild all illustrated different facets of her art.
Of two superb partners, Toronto’s Christine Bougie sparkled on guitar, lap steel and percussion. Barry Walsh, Peters’s long-time musical collaborator and spouse of two years, played piano, accordion and glockenspiel with panache.
After the new songs, Peters delved into earlier notebooks for a pulsating The Secret Of Life, a wistful On A Bus To St Cloud and an exhilarating To Say Goodbye. Outstanding support act Lisbee Stainton, a girl shortly going places with Seth Lakeman, joined the trio for the closing rendition of The Rolling Stones’s Wild Horses.
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