Some say that Country Music is all about Love, Death & Drinking! Well, in the case of Blackbirds by Gretchen Peters, I'll take just Love & Death - and definitely not only Country. OK - she may have been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame last year but Gretchen Peters is SO much more than Country. If I had to place her in Any catagory, which I hate doing by the way, then I would place her in Singer/Songwriters, along with people such as Jimmy Webb, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne etc.
From the mandolin strum of opening track Black Ribbons you know you're in some pretty dark territory. Even though it is sweetened with some lovely harmonies. You can almost close your eyes and here it being covered by Johnny Cash on his American Series albums.
I haven't heard many albums this year where every track is a beauty - but Blackbirds is one of them and the next track Pretty Things just sums up the album perfectly for me.
The House On Auburn Street is based around a true story of watching someone's house on fire. 'Dogs are barking now, and the kids are hypnotised'
Although it's subject matter may be from the darker side of life (and death), it is not morose or cloying. You can hear celebration in the almost Gospel-like Jubilee.
For an album of such poetic darkness Gretchen and her songwriting partners have conjured up some absolutely gorgeous melodies on Blackbirds - and none better than the beautiful closer, Cure For The Pain. When Gretchen was working on Blackbirds in 2013 - in one week she attended three memorial series and a wedding - it kind of makes you question mortality. As I play the album, I keep thinking it isn't a mile away from something that Bruce Springsteen might have written. Perhaps a more produced version of Nebraska would be somewhere in the ballpark.
The whole point of this blog - is to point you in the direction of music that has moved me - for whatever reason - not to dissect the whole album. I'll leave it up to you to discover the other jewels in this record. And they are many. And you will see your own stories, your own experiences, your own laughter and sadness. To me, it's a beautiful record. And that's enough.
Twitter - @gretchenpeters