‘Blackbirds’ is the new album by Gretchen Peters and the follow up to 2012’s hugely successful ‘Hello Cruel World’.
Grungy, yet subtle guitar ushers us into the title and opening track ‘Blackbirds’. This eerie murder ballad is one of three songs in this collection that have been co-written by County Antrim songwriter Ben Glover and features on his current album ‘Atlantic’. Whereas then the pair duet on it, here Gretchen makes the song her own. An eerie arrangement along with the previously mentioned grungy guitar and acoustic slide playing combined with her voice carries us away into a twisted landscape straight out of an Edgar Allen Poe novel. “I left you lying there like rotten fruit upon the ground” is a line that stands out with Gretchen’s vocal delivery here.
‘Pretty Things’ and ‘When You Coming Home’ also share song writing credits with Ben Glover and Gretchen pays him a fine tribute when speaking of their writing together. “I haven’t been a big fan of co-writing, and it’s not my natural M.O.” she explains, “but I feel a deep kinship with Ben”. “I knew before I went to write with him that there were no depths to which he wouldn’t go”.
‘When All You Got Is A Hammer’ tells the story of an angry decorated war veteran damaged by service and trying to re-adjust to normal life. This one has potent imagery. A bottle, a bible and crying wife quickly set the scene. “They show you how to shoot; they show you how to kill. They don’t show you what to do with this hole that you can’t fill”. We can see this being a rallying cry for the many left in pain after service.
‘The House On Auburn Street’ is a nod to a landmark of childhood years that we can all relate to and their inevitable passing. We’ve all known a place like this. The building that stood nearby, or at the end of our street as during our suburban lives we laughed, cried and ultimately grew up until one day like our innocence it was gone. Symbolically the house in the song burns down.
‘Black Ribbons’ explores the human effect of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010. This tale of endurance and ultimately loss features a fisherman and his wife and documents their lives and their struggle to build themselves up a decent life though honesty and hard work. After suffering through and surviving Hurricane Katrina 2010’s manmade disaster finally defeats them by destroying their livelihood and claiming the fisherman’s wife. “I got nothing left to give her, no answer to her prayer. Black ribbons on the water, black ribbons in her hair”.
‘Blackbirds’ explores darker places than possible any of Gretchen’s other records. Its stripped back production and grungy guitars gives it an edgier sound that along with song superb song writing will strike a chord with many. The compositions here explore the lives of everyday people and this collection of songs will relate to people everywhere as they go about their daily lives.
Springsteen has ‘Nebraska’; Peter’s has ‘Blackbirds’. 2012’s Woman at the Wheel is still firmly in the driving seat on the highway to success and ‘Blackbirds’ will ensure a long drive.
‘Blackbirds’ is available for pre-order on gretchenpeters.com