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Gretchen Peters - Hello Cruel World

  by Andy Cassidy

published: 28 / 1 / 2012

Gretchen Peters - Hello Cruel World
Label: Proper Records
Format: CD


Intensely personal, but ultimately triumphant ninth solo album from Nashville-based Grammy nominee, Gretchen Peters

'Hello Cruel World' is Gretchen Peters’ ninth album and finds the Nashville-based singer-songwriter in fine form. Grammy nominee Peters has written music for artists such as Neil Diamond and Etta James but now concentrates on recording her own material. Peters describes the album’s creation as a response to a year (2010) in which “the universe threw its best and worst” at her. This is an intensely personal collection, with songs influenced by Peters’ new marriage, her son’s gender reassignment surgery, the suicide of a friend and natural disasters including the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. With this background, Peters’ album could be a melancholy affair, but the overarching theme of the piece is, as Peters herself says, one of survival as triumph. The album opens with the title track, with an intelligent and insightful lyric carried along by a lilting country band. Musically the band perform superbly, and the overall sound of the track is full and rounded. For me, the highlight of the album is the second track, 'St Francis'. Described by Peters as a “test of faith parable,” Peters’ vocal is again supported by some excellent band work and a wonderfully dense choir of backing vocals by band members Barry Walsh, Kim Richey, guitarists Will Kimbrough and Doug Lancio, bassist Viktor Krauss and trumpeter Vinnie Ciesielski. 'Dark Angel' is an intense reflection on spirituality, on which Peters duets with new husband Barry Walsh. Lyrically, the song is yet another example of Peters’ skill as a writer. Describing life as a “beautiful disaster,” Peters and Walsh are joined by Rodney Crowell in the role of the eponymous dark angel – somewhat ironic, in that Crowell is an ordained minister and officiated at Peters’ wedding in 2010. Musically 'Hello Cruel World' is well-written, arranged and executed, but it is the lyrical quality of Peters’ material which I particularly enjoyed. Peters is a natural lyricist and has a wonderful ability to turn a phrase. “Since I was a child I’ve had a creative urge knocking inside me and I’ve acted on it,” she says. “Early on it was poetry, sometimes art, and sometimes, as a kid, dance. Until I found the guitar I was interested in anything expressive. By then words were a friend, but music was a tall, dark stranger that I’ve been in love with, or maybe stalking, ever since.”

Track Listing:-
1 Hello Cruel World
2 Saint Francis
3 The Matador
4 Dark Angel
5 Paradise Found
6 Woman On The Wheel
7 Five Minutes
8 Camille
9 Natural Disaster
10 Idlewild
11 Little World

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