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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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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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