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Music Review: Mary Gauthier – Live At Blue Rock

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Born in Louisiana, a runaway at age 15, an alcoholic for years who acheived sobriety at age 35 (which enabled her to begin writing songs), Mary Gauthier, (pronounced Go-Shay), has evolved into one of the better singer-songwriters working today.

She has released six studio albums, one compilation album, an album of demos, but never a live release until now. Live At Blue Rock finds her in an intimate setting at Blue Rock Artists Ranch just outside of Austin, Texas. The concert is career-spanning as she draws material from five of her studio releases.

The album is a sparse affair, which fits her music and stories well. She is only accompanied by percussionist Mike Meadows and fiddle player/vocalist Tania Elizabeth. Elizabeth is crucial to the overall sound, as she blends well with Gauthier’s voice and guitar, giving the music more substance.

Her music is mostly personal and explores the dark side of life. While she covers three songs by Canadian alternative country artist Fred Eaglesmith, it is her own compositions that form the heart of the performance. “Karla Faye” is about the convicted killer and capital punishment which she integrates with her individual history. “I Drink” plumbs the depths of her memories and psyche as she explores the terrors of alcohol addiction. “Drag Queens in Limousines” is both humorous in a wry way and poignant in a very personal way. “Wheel Inside the Wheel” travels in a different direction as the blues meets New Orleans’ Mardi Gras.

Sometimes her stories may be difficult to listen to because of their content, but they are always honest and the presentation emotional. They also translate well in a small club setting as she is surrounded by fans and friends.

Mary Gauthier’s music is made for the stage. For close to 70 minutes she draws the listener into her world, both past and present, as she performs her stories. It is a journey worth taking with her.

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