As she has so eloquently accomplished over the past 25 years, acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier has used her art once again to traverse the uncharted waters of the past few years. “I’m the kind of songwriter who writes what I see in the world right now,” she affirms. Thankfully, amid dark storms of pandemic loss, she found and followed the beacon of new love: Her gift to us, the powerful Dark Enough to See the Stars, collects ten sparkling jewels of Gauthier songcraft reflecting both love and loss.
Her eleventh album, Dark Enough to See the Stars, follows the profound antidote to trauma, Rifles & Rosary Beads, her 2018 collaborative work with wounded Iraq war veterans. It garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album, as well as a nomination for Album of the Year by the Americana Music Association. Publication of her first book, the illuminating Saved by a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting, in 2021, brought her more praise. Brandi Carlile has said, “Mary’s songwriting speaks to the tender aspects of our humanness. We need her voice in times like these more than we ever have.” The Associated Press called Gauthier “one of the best songwriters of her generation.”
On Dark Enough to See the Stars, she mourns recent devastating losses: the deaths of John Prine, David Olney, Nanci Griffith, and her beloved friend Betsy. But she also sings open-heartedly of love. All ten tracks prove Gauthier’s belief, as stated in Saved by a Song, that “songs can bring us a deep understanding of each other and ourselves and open the heart to love.”
Jaimee Harris’s sophomore effort Boomerang Town marks a bold step forward for this country-folk-leaning singer-songwriter. It is an arresting, ambitious song-cycle that explores the generational arc of family, the stranglehold of addiction, and the fragile ties that bind us together as Americans.
Harris began cultivating Boomerang Town in 2016, a time of great loss for many in the Americana community, with the songwriter losing several musicians close to her. A shift in the nation’s political landscape had ushered in a new level of cultural polarization and for someone who grew up in a small town outside of Waco, Texas, Harris believed the values instilled by her parents were not entirely in line with how many were viewing, and vilifying, Christians. As a person in recovery, Harris has had to re-evaluate her own connection to faith and find strength in a higher power. It was from the intersection of these social, personal, and political currents that the album was born.
While themes of addiction and grief permeate sections of the record, it echoes hope in the face of the darkness. Out February 17th, Boomerang Town understands that love and grief are two sides of the same coin.
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