Album Review: Mary Gauthier – Live at Blue Rock

With eight studio albums under her belt, Mary Gauthier is no stranger to the hard work of the country music scene.  Despite demands for a live album she opted to save it until she felt she was ready and indeed when she sings you can hear that she’s ready.

Mary Gauthier’s voice embodies a quintessential sound of American country music in a deep, yet understated manner.  Hers is a voice capable of conjuring images of smoke-filled bars, broad-rimmed hats and sun-faded shirts; it’s a voice that seems to have been uniquely crafted for her genre.  It isn’t simply Gauthier’s voice which catches your attention however; it is her deep, emotionally charged lyrics.  Hers is a slow music, never the kind of slow that seems obtrusive or hindering, but the kind of gentle music that’s designed to be enjoyed over time.  The 11 track album runs just shy of 70 minutes which provides you with ample time to enjoy the gentle pace as well as allowing you to really visualise yourself at the gig itself.  Her songs are thoughtful, considerate and deeply honest allowing them to bore their way right into the centre of your mind.  The few songs she covers, such as Fred Eaglesmith’s Cigarette Machine are performed beautifully and are left with a distinctive stamp of her own.

Her deep, Texan inflection is emboldened by a plethora of masterfully orchestrated instruments, dominated by soaring fiddle tunes, stoic drum beats, artful guitar riffs and an ample and irreplaceable dose of the harmonica.  It’s a testament to her music that throughout the album the audience remain completely enchanted by her, only making noise when it’s most appropriate to do so before falling sharply back into their encapsulated silence again.  It’s considerate whilst retaining the electric feeling of excitement that is inferred in a live concert.  The only missing piece is the gentle crackling of the LPs of bygone days.  Her appreciative audience could be attributed to the pace of her work, which is rarely rushed, slowly enjoyed and washes over you like a warm wave.  The one thigh-slapping exception being her finale Wheel Inside the Wheel, which is a defiant, soulful song filled with quick strings and a rousing guitar melody.  It’s the perfect send-off for such an enjoyable album.

Live at Blue Rock permits you to bear witness to her talents live in concert where you might not otherwise have the chance.  It takes a beautifully performed selection of touching songs and allows them to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.

For more information on Mary Gauthier, check out her website below:

 

http://www.marygauthier.com/

 

Review by Joe Knipe

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