Gretchen Peters - Hello Cruel World Album Review
Posted by Hunter on Tue, 10 Jan 2012.
New York born singer songwriter Gretchen Peters is back with her ninth album, "Hello Cruel World". Yes, her ninth, and I can never get tired of her work. Raised in Boulder, Colorado, and then in Nashville from the late 1980s, her work is often categorised as "Country", which I often feel is a bit unfair because there's a lot more going on with Gretchen's music.
Hello Cruel World is a dark album occasionally lit up by moments of hope, a reflection of what's been happening in her own life, because when life has thrown as many negative and tragic events at you as it has at Gretchen, then plain outright defiance and the ability to still recognize the good things in your life is enough to get you through.
My personal favourite on this album is opening track, "Hello Cruel World", a sad melancholic song tinged with a bitter determined will to see life through to the end. Gretchen's voice is beautiful and rich, while the backing from the band is about as close to perfection as you can get (and when you have an album that features the talents of Will Kimbrough, Rodney Crowell, Kim Richey, and the rhythm section from Robert Plant's Band of Joy, it certainly doesn't come as a surprise).
Peters calls Hello Cruel World her "most close-to-the-bone work, written at a time when I felt absolutely fearless about telling the truth.", and the truth is over the last year she has had to come to terms with the tragic loss of a friend through suicide, and had to deal with some other revelations that have made her stop and think. On a more positive note her marriage to long-time partner Barry Walsh finally became a reality.
Other personal favourites include "Saint Francis", with it's lovely multi layered vocals interwoven with some lovely subtle blues guitar work, and "Matador", well it's a sublime piece of writing, and if you get a chance, please do look at Gretchen's own story / view of the track here: http://www.gretchenpeters.com/2012/01/the-matador/, because it gives a terrific insight in to how much passion and thought she puts into her songs.
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
I also fell for the track "Five Minutes", which as it turns out, is indeed that, exactly five minutes long. It's a nice little idea, which at first may seem a bit too contrived, but actually is a beautifully crafted song, consisting mainly of Gretchen's wonderful voice in a reticent telling of a youthful love gone wrong story and how history may be doomed to repeat itself, with superb lyrics such as "Andy he reminds me some of you, back when you were Romeo and I was Juliet, West Texas Capulet and Montague".
Hello Cruel World delivers a finely balanced album that infuses some beautiful elements of country music without overstepping the mark into the popular stereotypical misconceptions that dog that genre, along some light touches of blues and folk, this is a truly wonderful album that is capable of provoking real emotional feelings. The songs are insightful, meaningful, personal, and written from the heart. This is an album you can't afford to miss
You can visit her website here: http://www.gretchenpeters.com/ and it's well worth a visit because there on her site is a free downloads section too!