Monday, May 6, 2013


While her studio albums have wowed fans, Gauthier is even more powerful live.  With just a stripped-down trio, the focus is on her gut-punching lyrics.   Plus, add instrumental breaks from Tanya Elizabeth's scratchy, echoed fiddle, and this is a soul-searching, and sometimes heart-breaking listen.

Gauthier's own story is always up front in her material, her days of drugs, alcohol and jail long in the past but reflected in her sympathy for her characters.  Listening to her autobiographical Drag Queens In Limousines, about being part of the street life of New Orleans is a poignant life-lesson for parents, to let their kids find their way instead of making them run away.  The stunner, the song championed by even Bob Dylan, is I Drink, with its "fish swim, birds fly/Daddies yell, Mamas cry" chorus, delivered here to the hushed crowd.  Bravely facing a Texas audience, she delivers her song Karla Faye, about the woman famously executed for murder in the state in 1998.  While most attention focused on how Texas hadn't executed a woman in over a hundred years, and how she had become a Christian on death row, Gauthier focuses on the need to understand the horrors of drug addiction and teenagers living on the street.  Oh, and sympathy.  There's almost always a call for sympathy in her songs.

She's also a fan of Canadian songwriter Fred Eaglesmith, with three of his songs included among the eleven here.  There's certainly a similarity in their approach and mood. In his The Rocket, there's an old man left alone to watch the trains, a war vet not even appreciated by his grandkids.  It could be the same old man that sits and thinks in I Drink.  With tracks that cover her whole career, this is a must for fans, and a fine place to start for newcomers.

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