11 Songs, 53 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

2005’s No Mercy brought good things to singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier, such as the #2 slot in the annual No Depression Critics’ Poll, and the “New/Emerging Artist of the Year” crown bestowed by the Americana Music Association. In 2006, Bob Dylan chose a song by Gauthier for his special XM Satellite Radio program playlist. So what should happen next, in 2007? Answer: Gauthier released what is an even brighter spot in her recording career, an album produced by Joe Henry, and featuring guests such as Van Dyke Parks and Loudon Wainwright.  Some may argue that the word “brighter” has no place here: Gauthier’s stories are gothic and dark, filled with bitterness, anguish, and fear (although a faint sense of hope penetrates the gloom on occasion). But the album was cut live in the studio, with minimal fuss and overdubbing, resulting in a work that feels strangely vigorous and alive. The family saga “Snakebit” opens the record and sets the tone, with its blood-chilling vocals and imagery, crawling along on a bass drum and a feeling of imminent doom. Gauthier sings about heartache, longing and change (the mournful “Same Road,” the sweetly romantic “Please,” and the hopelessly beautiful “Before You Leave”);  she sings about roots, expressing a Katrina victim’s pain in stark poetic terms (“Can’t Find the Way”) and wearily describes looking for a way to cushion an emotional fall as her voice floats down to earth on a steel guitar (“Soft Place to Land”). If you let it, Between Daylight and Dark might touch your heart in places you'd long forgotten about.

EDITORS’ NOTES

2005’s No Mercy brought good things to singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier, such as the #2 slot in the annual No Depression Critics’ Poll, and the “New/Emerging Artist of the Year” crown bestowed by the Americana Music Association. In 2006, Bob Dylan chose a song by Gauthier for his special XM Satellite Radio program playlist. So what should happen next, in 2007? Answer: Gauthier released what is an even brighter spot in her recording career, an album produced by Joe Henry, and featuring guests such as Van Dyke Parks and Loudon Wainwright.  Some may argue that the word “brighter” has no place here: Gauthier’s stories are gothic and dark, filled with bitterness, anguish, and fear (although a faint sense of hope penetrates the gloom on occasion). But the album was cut live in the studio, with minimal fuss and overdubbing, resulting in a work that feels strangely vigorous and alive. The family saga “Snakebit” opens the record and sets the tone, with its blood-chilling vocals and imagery, crawling along on a bass drum and a feeling of imminent doom. Gauthier sings about heartache, longing and change (the mournful “Same Road,” the sweetly romantic “Please,” and the hopelessly beautiful “Before You Leave”);  she sings about roots, expressing a Katrina victim’s pain in stark poetic terms (“Can’t Find the Way”) and wearily describes looking for a way to cushion an emotional fall as her voice floats down to earth on a steel guitar (“Soft Place to Land”). If you let it, Between Daylight and Dark might touch your heart in places you'd long forgotten about.

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