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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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September 2018

The Devil Makes Three
70 pts.
Chains Are Broken
New West
Jimmy LaFave
65 pts.
Peace Town
Music Road Records
Malcolm Holcombe
48 pts.
Come Hell Or High Water
Gypsy Eyes Music
Cody Canada & the Departed
47 pts.
Blue Rose Records
Jeffrey Foucault
43 pts.
Blood Brothers
Blueblade Records
The War And Treaty
42 pts.
Healing Tide
Thirty Tigers
Martha Fields
40 pts.
Dancing Shadows
The Weight Band
35 pts.
World Gone Mad
Must Have Music
David Olney
32 pts.
This Side Or The Other
Black Hen Music
The Black Sorrows
32 pts.
Citizen John
Blue Rose Records
Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis
31 pts.
Wild Wild Wild
Bloodshot Records
Hadley McCall Thackston
28 pts.
Hadley McCall Thackston
Wolfe Island Records
Nathan Bell
28 pts.
Er Gwaetha Pawb a Phopeth
Angry Stick
Curse Of Lono
26 pts.
As I Fell
Submarine Cat Records
Ryan Martin
25 pts.
Gimme Some Light
High Moon
Stephen Simmons
25 pts.
Locke Creek Records
Jason McNiff
23 pts.
Joy And Independence
At The Helm Records
Jim Lauderdale
23 pts.
Time Flies
Yep Roc
Kevin Gordon
23 pts.
Tilt and Shine
Crowville Media
Eliza Gilkyson
21 pts.
Red House Records
Boz Scaggs
20 pts.
Out Of the Blues
Concord Records
20 pts.
Among The Ghosts
Thirty Tigers
Melissa Carper & Rebecca Patek
20 pts.
Brand New Old-Time Songs
The Jayhawks
17 pts.
Back Roads and Abandoned Motels
Lori McKenna
16 pts.
Cn Records

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