AUK’s Top 10 Americana Albums of the 21st Century: Number 5 – Gretchen Peters “Blackbirds” (2015)

artwork for Gretchen Peters album "Blackbirds"

Gretchen Peters’ contribution to the singer-songwriter craft through the twenty-first century has few if any peers, such is the cannon of her work and the quality of her albums, peaking with the award winning, ‘Blackbirds’ in 2015.

The album followed on from the equally fine ‘Hello Cruel World’ in 2012, but with ‘Blackbirds’ Peters takes the listener down a different path, one that focuses on life’s underbelly with the subject matter darker, more sinister, her characters more damaged and yet still equally tough and defiant. Songs such as the title track, ‘When All You’ve Got Is A Hammer’ and ‘Black Ribbons’, have already become classics of their genre, whilst the duet with the late great Jimmy Lafave on, ‘When You Comin’ Home’, is worth the admission fee alone. Throughout the album Peters is ably supported by a cast to die for including Jason Isbell, Ben Glover, Kim Richey, Maraca Berg, Suzy Boggus, Doug Lancio and of course the ever present Barry Walsh.

Back in February I wrote, “If the true art in the craft of songwriting lies not in what is said, bur rather what is not said, where the space between the lines encourages the listener to actively inhabit the void, then Peters has the gift most other can only dream of”. I could have just as easily waxed lyrical about the phrasing and pacing, the light and shade, the tension and release, for Peters has it all, truly one of the finest songwriter of her generation and on, ‘Blackbirds’, she delivered her finest body of work to date.

About Graeme Tait 116 Articles
Hi. I'm Graeme, a child of the sixties, eldest of three, born into a Forces family. Keen guitar player since my teens, (amateur level only), I have a wide, eclectic taste in music and an album collection that exceeds 5.000. Currently reside in the beautiful city of Lincoln.
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David Wedge

Good to see your pick in the top 10 Graeme. And not to forget the brilliant Will Kimbrough who also played on that album of course.