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Gretchen Peters - Hello Cruel World (Scarlet Letter)

Star rating: 

There's little doubt that Gretchen Peters was put on this planet to write songs, something she has been doing prolifically and successfully for the best part of her adulthood, firstly for other artists and then during the last sixteen years for herself. With nine albums to date, the New York-born songwriter continues to write from the heart with songs that have attracted the attention of many of the finest singers of our time including Etta James, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Neil Diamond and Faith Hill.

Woman on the Wheel is a pretty apt metaphor for Gretchen Peters' recent personal life; losing a friend to suicide, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and Nashville's nightmarish floods, all of which affected the singer profoundly. Sometimes life throws knives at us from all angles, all of which must be dodged, even if we are tied to a spinning wheel. 

HELLO CRUEL WORLD features eleven self-penned songs, including a couple of co-writes; Saint Francis with Tom Russell and Camille with Matraca Berg and Suzy Bogguss, a song that features some empathetic Miles Davis-esque muted trumpet accomaniment by Vinnie Ciesielski. The Grammy nominated singer-songwriter is joined by fellow songwriter Rodney Crowell on Dark Angel, who's other role as an ordained minister came in useful when he joined Gretchen and long-time accompanist Barry Walsh in marriage in October 2011.  

Surrounded by a superb supporting cast that also includes Will Kimbrough and Doug Lancio on guitars, Viktor Krauss on bass and John Gardner on drums, HELLO CRUEL WORLD also features some fine vocals courtesy of Kim Richey, who provides the celestial Angel Choir on Saint Francis, whilst violinist Chris Carmichael goes on to further embellish some of the songs. If HELLO CRUEL WORLD is a dark album lyrically, then the musical arrangements serve to lighten the mood and leave we the listeners, with some measure of optimism. 

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky