This is a proper record. In every sense. Acclaimed singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters released ‘Dancing With The Beast’ in late May. It follows on from ‘Blackbirds’, which was rightly hailed as an outstanding recording.

‘Dancing With The Beast’ equals or maybe even surpasses her previous work. It isn’t a bundle of laughs or full of catchy throwaway pop tunes. Rather, what you get is a fully-formed collection of great songs, beautifully sung and the musicianship around them is just note perfect.

The album is produced by Doug Lancio, Gretchen Peters herself, and Barry Walsh. The recording is superb; great writing by Gretchen, with a number of co-writes. There are four notable co-writes with Ben Glover, who also contributed to the previous album.

A small team of A-list players contribute to the record; Barry Walsh on piano and organ, and Will Kimborough on guitar. The band is extremely tasteful, complimenting but never overpowering the songs.

And it really is all about the songs. Eleven of them in total, a number of them reflect upon the lives of women. Each in turn paints vivid images of the struggles and joys of life.

Starting with ‘Arguing With Ghosts’, reflecting upon returning your hometown. Up next is ‘Wichita’, forever in my consciousness from the Jimmy Webb “Lineman” song, but this is a much darker and disturbing tale.

One could pick out each and every one of the songs for praise and examination and they would each stand up to detailed scrutiny. ‘The Show’ is a real killer, an eerie and realistic reflection upon life on the road for a musician.

Be home tomorrow evening if we fly. If the weathers clear and the interstate stays dry. Nineteen songs and one more night to go. Time to get it up for the show.

And then there is ‘Say Grace’. There is a whole independent American movie packed into that one.

Gretchen Peters should be spoken of in the same breath as the likes of Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, Guy Clark, and that class of wordsmith and musician. Has she been underrated because she is a woman? You decide.

But before you pass judgement, buy and listen to the work and grab the chance to see her perform this Autumn.

7th September 2018 Liberty Hall Theatre Dublin Ireland
8th September 2018 Hawks Well Theatre Sligo Ireland
9th September 2018 Lyric Theatre Belfast Northern Ireland