Mary Gauthier- Live at Blue Rock review   Leave a comment

Mary Gauthier Live at Blue Rock Baby/Latent

BlueRock_CD_300x300-220x220Earlier this month came word that Mary Gauthier was in the studio recording a ‘live to tape’ album, one with the band carrying the load without an abundance of extra tools and gimmicks. Great news, that, and serves as impetus to get busy reflecting on her most recent release, Live at Blue Rock.

Long one of the most striking members of the Americana community, Gauthier’s profile has slowly increased over the past ten or so years. Still, there are pockets where Gauthier remains under-known. Almost universal positive reviews have slowly spread the word, as has relentless touring. Having had a song (“How You Learn to Live Alone” co-written with Gretchen Peters) featured this past week on Nashville likely doubled the number of folks who have heard her songs, if not her performance of them.

Live at Blue Rock widespread release occurred this  spring. My excuse in being so tardy is the album made its way to me only earlier this month, but it is everything a casual fan could want in a Gauthier live set. Hardcore Gauthier followers will be disappointed only in the album’s perceived brevity at eleven songs.

Accompanied here by percussionist Mike Meadows and fiddler/vocalist Tania Elizabeth (who adds additional percussion), Gauthier spends more than an hour doing what she does- singing her songs, utilizing most impressive lyrics to give voice to outlanders and broken souls populating some of the finest songs to emerge from the Americana field in the last fifteen years.

Several of Gauthier’s earliest songs- the first four songs from her second album Drag Queens In Limousines including the title track and “Karla Faye” and “I Drink,” the pair of songs that will likely serve as Gauthier’s calling cards until she retires- as well as a fifth with “Our Lady of the Shooting Stars” and one or a pair from every album since.

One is tempted to quibble with some of the songs excluded- I’m partial to “Mercy Now” and “Ways of the World”- one can’t find fault with the songs presented. Having only caught Gauthier live solo, I’m impressed by the textures that a pair of instrumentalists bring to Gauthier’s live presence. “Last of the Hobo Kings” and “Sugar Cane” are but two songs that seem much more complete given their presentation here.

Gauthier also performs three Fred Eaglesmith songs, never a bad thing but highly unusual for a live recording comprised of eleven tracks. “Your Sister Cried” has been Gauthier’s since it first appeared on a fairly obscure Eaglesmith tribute album, and she similarly takes possession of “Cigarette Machine” (featuring beautiful sounds from Elizabeth) and “The Rocket.”

While a live album usually serves as fresh merchandise to sell to fans between albums- and I’m not suggesting Live at Blue Rock is more than that- one can be assured that there should be little disappointment accompanying the purchase of this album. The production values are high, the audience doesn’t get in the way, and Gauthier’s voice is acute.

Live at Blue Rock whets the appetite for the album currently under construction: given that Gauthier has never disappointed, I eagerly anticipate its release. Until then, this set works- and I’ll be giving Drag Queens, Dixie Kitchen, and Between Daylight and Dark another listen this week.

As always- thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee.

I’m on Twitter at @FervorCoulee


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