Mary Gauthier: Songs of Hope and Love from the Eye of the Storm

“I’m a writer, but there’s no mandate for me to write songs about my memories or personal experiences”

Mary Gauthier (Image: All Eyes Media)

“I’m a troubadour,” Mary Gauthier said, calling Rock & Roll Globe from her Nashville home.

“I’m getting ready to go on tour today, but I don’t even know what record I’m touring with anymore. I’m out of my mind from what’s been going on the past few years. I was home, locked down like everybody else. I wrote a book, did livestreams and wrote some songs. We’ve been back at it recently, and hope to stay out on the road, but there’s still a concern – places where the virus is spreading rapidly. We’ll have to bob, weave and dodge and hopefully keep going. We’re fully vaxxed and masked, but nothing is foolproof, so we’ll play it a day at a time.”

Gauthier will be touring behind Dark Enough to See the Stars, her recently released album for Thirty Tigers.

“It’s a hopeful collection, made during a time of pain and loss, thinking about the million lives lost to Covid,” she proclaims. “In the midst of hard times, there is a clarity that can form. The ability to see what matters is heightened during times of adversity. The songs address the time we’re living in, our struggle with mortality, and dealing with so many people passing away. It also documents a time of connection and love as well.”

Mary Gauthier Dark Enough to See the Stars, Thirty Tigers 2022

The album features Gauthier’s subtle voice, singing songs balanced in the space between her faith in a better future and today’s reality. Her words are often spoken as much as sung, driving home the simple truths she explores. The arrangements hint at country, but lack the studio polish that marks so much of today’s commercial country.

The opening track, “World Fall Apart,” is a gentle love ballad, with a gospel feel supplied by Danny Mitchell’s organ. Juan Solorzano’s bluesy lead guitar supports Gauthier’s vocal, as she sings of the joys of love. Mitchell’s piano chimes like a distant church bell on “How Could You Be Gone.” Gautier’s vocal describes her preparation for the funeral of a beloved friend. Her intimate tone intensifies the feeling of grief she describes. “About Time” is one of the album’s most moving tunes, a soft country blues that looks back on the joys of a relationship, while knowing that the flame will never be rekindled. Gautier supports her vocal with quiet acoustic picking and subtle harmonica fills.

The record was made during the lockdown, but she said the process was smooth.

“Neilson Hubbard, the producer, brought in the players and the vibe,” she explains. “He creates a safe environment, were everyone is able to excel. It was an easy album to make. We did it in four days, a very low stress, low key project. The band is the same one I used for my last record. We all had masks and multiple vaccinations. I’d play the song for them, they’d write a chart, and by the second or third take, it’s done. The Nashville players are incredible.”

 

VIDEO: Mary Gauthier “Fall Apart World”

There’s a gospel feel to some of the arrangements and plenty of religious imagery in the tunes, but Gautier said her spiritual practice is personal in nature. “I believe there are powers greater than myself, but I don’t use religion to get in touch with those larger things. I’m in recovery, so I have a relationship with the recovery community. That’s where I go to get renewed. My last album, Trouble and Love, was a break up record. This one is a record of communion with another person, of finding ways to move on and find love again. 

“I’m a writer, but there’s no mandate for me to write songs about my memories or personal experiences. The inspiration comes from all over the place, as it should. Good writers go where the songs take them. I like to crack my window open, because this mysterious thing called a song is always looking to find a way in. I can’t explain how the process works, because I don’t fully understand it.” 

 

 

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j. poet

j. poet has been writing about music for most of his adult life. He has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Express, Harp, Paste, Grammy.com, PlanetOut.com, American Profile, Creem, Relix, Downbeat, Folk Roots, New Noise and more national and international publications and websites than he can remember. He wrote most of the Musichound Guide to World Music (Visible Ink, 2000) and had two stories in Best Rock Writing 2014 (That Devil Music). He has interviewed a wide spectrum of artists including Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard and Godzilla. He lives in San Francisco. 

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