Gretchen Peters – Blackbirds

by Michael Rampa

gretchen-peters_blackbirdsLike many artists, Gretchen Peters turned to music in a time of pain for her eighth studio release, “Blackbirds.” The newly minted Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer penned Martina McBride’s iconic  “Independence Day” and Faith Hill’s “The Secret Of Life.”

The 11 track collection is a graceful, yet unsubtle take on aging and mortality that is often dark and even unsettling. Black crows witness a murder amidst kerosene and fire in the title cut and elsewhere, there are odes to the BP oil spill and the Nashville flood.

During the summer of 2013, when I began writing songs for “Blackbirds, I attended three memorial services and a wedding,” Peters said. “It dawned on me that this is the way things go as you get older- the memorial services come with alarming frequency and the weddings are infrequent and thus somehow more moving.

Sonically, the album is crisp and clear thanks to co-producers Doug Lancio and Barry Walsh.

As much as she tries to finesse the pains of death and aging, here are no breaks from the heavy handedness and the album feels like a 30 plus minute bludgeoning of melancholy.

The midway point is a perfect spot for something light hearted, but there is no relief from lament on the second half as she tackles a soldier’s PTSD  on ”When  All You Got Is A Hammer.” The ache in her voice is primal as she wails on “The Pain Is The Pain”

The chorus to “Everything Falls Away” reads,

 I went down to the sea to look for you
And found the moon and the Milky Way
Watch the tide take back what it gave to me
Everything falls away

Astronomers still do not know what the “dark matter” in the universe is. Peters seems to have a pretty good handle on it.

For more, visit www.gretchenpeters.com

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