Gretchen Peters is an American singer-songwriter. She was born in New York in 1959 but spent most of her life in Colorado, before moving to Nashville in the late 1980s.
In Nashville she has made a name for herself writing for the likes of Neil Diamond, Martina McBride and Etta James and co-writing songs with Bryan Adams; and releasing no fewer than seven studio albums of her own.
In 1995 she won the Country Music Association Song Of The Year award for Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” and in October 2014 Gretchen Peters was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. On 9th February 2015 Gretchen Peters is set to release her new album ‘Blackbirds.’
Co-produced with Doug Lancio and Barry Walsh and recorded in Nashville, the album features a who’s who of modern American roots music: Jerry Douglas, Jason Isbell, Jimmy LaFave, Will Kimbrough, Kim Richey, Suzy Bogguss and more. But it’s not the guests that make ‘Blackbirds‘ the most poignant and moving album of her career; it’s the impeccable craftsmanship, her ability to capture the kind of complex, conflicting, and overwhelming emotional moments we might otherwise try to hide and instead shine a light of truth and understanding onto them.
The eleven tracks on ‘Blackbirds‘ face down death with a dark grit and delicate beauty.
“During the summer of 2013 when I began writing songs for ‘Blackbirds,’ there was one week when I went to three memorial services and a wedding,” remembers Peters. “It dawned on me that this is the way it goes as you get older – the memorial services start coming with alarming frequency and the weddings are infrequent and thus somehow more moving.”
She found herself drawn to artists courageous enough to face their own aging and mortality in their work (Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Nick Lowe), but noticed all the material was coming from a male perspective.
In an atypical and unexpectedly rewarding move, Gretchen Peters teamed with frequent tour-mate Ben Glover to co-write several tunes on the new album, which evokes the kind of 1970’s folk rock of Neil Young, David Crosby, and Joni Mitchell that Peters grew up listening to, albeit with a more haunted, country-noir vibe simmering just below the surface.
Geographically, the album leaps around the country, with particularly heartrending stops in southern Louisiana at the scene of a crime (“Blackbirds“), Pelham, New York, where Gretchen Peters probes the hidden darkness of the leafy suburbia in which she grew up (“The House On Auburn Street“), and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where a fisherman lays his wife to rest after losing everything in the BP oil spill (“Black Ribbons“). “When All You Got Is A Hammer” is the story of a veteran struggling to adjust to life at home after fighting overseas, while “The Cure For The Pain” takes place in the waning days of illness in a hospital, and “Nashville” brings us back to Peters’ adopted hometown.
Despite the varied locations, the songs on ‘Blackbirds’ are all inextricably tied together through their characters, whom Peters paints with extraordinary empathy and vivid detail.
Gretchen Peters new album ‘Blackbirds‘ via Proper Records scheduled for release on 9th Feb 2015.