Friday, March 6, 2015

Gretchen Peters at SubCulture

Gretchen Peters was born in Eastchester, New York, a northern suburb of New York City, and was raised in Boulder, Colorado, but in the late 1980s relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. There, she found work as a songwriter, composing songs for Martina McBride, Etta James, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, George Strait, Anne Murray and Neil Diamond, and co-writing songs with Bryan Adams. She won the Country Music Association's Song of the Year award for McBride's "Independence Day" in 1995 and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014. Peters' 11th album, Blackbirds, was released on February 10, 2015.

At SubCulture tonight, Peters finger-picked her acoustic guitar and sang softly and sweetly, accompanied by her husband, Barry Walsh, on piano, accordion and acoustic guitar. The simplicity of the setting allowed the majesty of her mature lyrics and vocals to penetrate profoundly. Many of the 57-year-old singer songwriter's newer songs opened a view to aging and mortality, an uncommon topic for women to approach publicly. Her characters were trapped in darkness. "When All You Got Is a Hammer" told of a veteran's difficult struggle to adjust to life at home after fighting overseas. In "Black Ribbons," a fisherman laid his wife to rest after losing everything in the BP oil spill. The main character in "The Cure for the Pain" was ill in a hospital. Peters opened her second set solo at the piano, singing a stirring "Independence Day," a song about domestic abuse. All of the characters in her story songs were personified in vivid detail and tender empathy, as the lyrics captured the delicate beauty and hope of their journeys. As such, although many songs revealed the dark night of the soul, they were built around moving, uplifting arrangements. Gretchen Peters proved to be a unique master craftswoman of Americana country-folk songs.

Visit Gretchen Peters at