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GRETCHEN PETERS –DANCING WITH THE BEAST (Proper Records)

www.properrecords.com

Americana singer-songwriterGretchen Peters  is one of the finest female purveyors of the art, and, with her consistently lifting the bar the listener is once again in for a treat when they give her latest offering a spin. 

While Peters’ songs on the album might be other about broken female heroines, ‘you can trace the feminist DNA in my songwriting back to “Independence Day” (a hit for country act Martina McBride) and probably before that, concedes Peters.   

Peters has penned a bunch of hits for the the likes of Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Patty Loveless, George Strait and had the likes of Bonnie Raitt cover her work.   

Admittedly, Peters’ fails when if comes to choice of album cover. Apart from which Dancing With The Beast is a keeper, an album that grows on you. Set to become one’s best friend the11-track, fifty-minute Doug Lancio, Peters and Barry Walsh produced record weaves an intriguing set of vignettes as Peters produces one solid piece after another. For those preferring a song with a beat, Dobro and piano warmed, “Wichita” (written with Ben Glover; another they wrote together was 2015 award winner "Blackbirds") bounces along merrily as she speaks of the deeds acted out there. My copy doesn’t list any pickers but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Lancio. 

Like a landscape painter, Peters knows the mood captured by one means a great deal, and with her keen to throw in with fallen women and life’s hard-knuckled struggles she turns to that on a woman speaking of her labours on “Disappearing Act”. On “Lowlands” she speaks of loneliness as she fixed her supper, and how no burns one with her neighbour ever since her put that sticker on his bumper, and on “The Show” though she speaks of how the hotel coffee tastes like kerosene she has never been happier with her life. 

Title-track “Dancing With The Beast” is a dark piece, and one which she speaks of how he doesn’t care about her and only wants the best of her and how he feel she does not try hard enough. Enough said! "The Boy From Rye" focuses on the insecurity of female adolescence, and how someone can carry it well into their lives. 

The idea for the seedy 'Truckstop Angel” was actually sparked 20 years ago by a newspaper article in New York. Draped in piano, and like with her general theme it speaks of how a woman obliges, the need of men at truck stops and lottery of it all. Regards what kind of customer she gets. “Say Grace” offers hope and how the woman in the story can start again, and possibly a new era (as someone I know has done). Next in line is “Lay Low” as Peters opens in brighter fashion, musically, with Dobro (I later found out Lucio is heavily involved instrumentally on the record) and piano (Barry Walsh) supplying graceful accompaniment a song that’s easier on the ear. 

Closing track “Love That Makes A Cup Of Tea” is a mellow wandering ode, and with it performed to a melody similar to previous work from Peters the lyrics are in safe (and welcome) hands. 

Maurice Hope      

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July 2018
1
American Aquarium
93 pts.
Things Change
New West
BK,TJ,JB
2
Gretchen Peters
56 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
ML,GF
3
Patrick Sweany
51 pts.
Ancient Noise
Nine Mile Records
FC,RK,BM,CVL,TK
4
Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore
47 pts.
Downey To Lubbock
Yep Roc
SP,JBO,JJC
5
Melissa Carper & Rebecca Patek
34 pts.
Brand New Old-Time Songs
Independent
 
6
Ry Cooder
33 pts.
The Prodigal Son
Perro Verde Records
DH
7
Jenny van West
32 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
RST,NC
8
Brooks Williams
30 pts.
Lucky Star
Red Guitar Blue Music
 
9
Levi Parham
29 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
 
10
I See Hawks in LA
26 pts.
Live and Never Learn
Western Seed Records
WR
11
Rory Block
25 pts.
A Woman's Soul
Stoneyplain Records
MB,AL
12
Phil Cook
24 pts.
People Are My Drug
Thirty Tigers
LK,JD
13
Mike Aiken
23 pts.
Wayward Troubadour
Northwind Records
BP
14
Karen Jonas
22 pts.
Butter
Independent
HVB
15
Buckley
21 pts.
Las Cruzes
Rum Bar Records
 
 
John Prine
21 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
 
17
Neko Case
20 pts.
Hell-on
Anti Epitha
MW
 
Sam Lewis
20 pts.
Loversity
Loversity Records
HDB
 
Verbraak Van Bijnen
20 pts.
Endless Road
CRS
HH,TV
20
Jesse Dayton
19 pts.
The Outsider
Blue Elan
LM,SZ
21
Dieter van der Westen Band
18 pts.
Me and You
Independent
 
 
Hadley McCall Thackston
18 pts.
Hadley McCall Thackston
Wolfe Island Records
CRS
 
Willie Nelson
18 pts.
Last Man Standing
Legacy
 
24
Carter Sampson
17 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
 
Tami Neilson
17 pts.
SassaFrass!
Outside Music

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