in performance: mary gauthier

mary gauthier.

 

“This song is for anyone who seriously fell in love with a sociopathic narcissist.”

 

With that qualifier, Mary Gauthier pretty explained why her brand of country music probably won’t be popping up on the radio next to Kenny Chesney’s latest beachcombing hit anytime soon.

With that qualifier, Mary Gauthier pretty explained why her brand of country music probably won’t be popping up on the radio next to Kenny Chesney’s latest beachcombing hit anytime soon.

During a beautifully understated performance last night at Cosmic Charlie’s, the New Orleans bred, Nashville-based songstress favored a stark and often severe country despondency. But her music wasn’t acted out with the kind of video-savvy pathos your everyday country star favors. Gauthier let the dour human detail of her songs spell out the drama.

Aside from whispers of electric guitar ambience from sidekick Tom Hicks and her own acoustic guitar accompaniment, Gauthier’s songs were completely unadorned. The modest-sized crowd on hand took to setting well and awarded her a level of quiet, active listening that allowed the songs – bleak as they were – to thrive.

Adding to the potency of the music was a John Prine level of conversational ease. Songs like I Drink possessed Prine’s gift of homespun gab as well as a melodic appeal that was deceptively bright eyed. But such congenial trappings only made I Drink’s downward spiral storyline even darker. “Old men sit and think,” Gauthier sang. “I drink.”

The autobiographical orphan ballad Goodbye and the love-gone-brutally-wrong confessional Ledge followed in a likewise lyrical but despondent manner. Curiously, the literary wanderlust within Last of the Hobo Kings, a eulogy for a famed railroad drifter that had “caught the Westbound,” proved the sunniest, most folk friendly tune of the evening.

“I’d play you a happy song,” Gauthier after Hobo Kings’ conclusion. “But I haven’t written one yet.”  



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