Mary Gauthier (from the album Live at Blue Rock) - There’s a natural quality in Mary Gauthier’s music that reminds one of a firefly on a summer evening – subtle but just stunning and uncommon enough to be fascinating. It seems one always glimpses those fireflies on the type of warm summer evenings, the type that inspire shared confidences that grow bolder as the sun dips.
Mary Gauthier Live at Blue Rock, scheduled for February 7 release, evokes just those feelings. As Gauthier works through the set that includes “Blood on Blood” about children left for adoption and “Karla Faye,” about infamous killer turned born-again Christian, it’s easy to feel that the protagonists in her songs are sharing confidences with each listener.
Perhaps that’s why Live at Blue Rock might just be Gauthier’s best album. That’s saying something when you consider the critical acclaim that surrounded her six previous albums including the critically acclaimed 2010 release The Foundling.
Who knows why her gritty vocals on songs including “Last of the Hobo Kings,” or Fred Eaglesmith’s “Cigarette Machine,” connect so fully? Credit the live setting or the night or the sorrowful instrumentation, including just the right amount of sobbing fiddle, for the full-bodied brilliance.
Interesting how she plays off the crowd vibe, too. It’s not uncommon to hear Gauthier infuse humor into the song “I Drink,” which she co-wrote with Crit Harmon. On this night at the Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio in Wimberley, Texas, near Austin, though, she puts a mellow, almost regretful tone into the song.
“They’re living things,” Gauthier said of her work. “You record ’em one way, but that’s just the way you played it that day. Some words change, the tempo changes. It has to go with the flow of the room and the flow of the night.” And on this night, the result bewitches. (written by Nancy Dunham)