My last encounter with Gretchen Peter's was with her 2009 recording with Tom
Russell 'One To The Heart, One To The Head', a delectable listening experience.
'Hello Cruel World' finds her alone again and on very fine form. Ms Peters
has the kind of world-weary voice which manages to combine both warmth and
pathos in equal measure. There are eleven new songs in the set some of which
stand among the best in her esteemed career. The album has an overall ambience
of melancholy and even when things get a tad more raucous, as they do on
'Woman On The Wheel', her predilection for minor keys never becomes morose.
There are some truly beautiful compositions on offer here. The tender 'Saint
Francis', co-written with Mr Russell, sports some gloriously restrained harmonies;
'Camille', delivers some jazzy late-night trumpet and painfully poignant lyrics ;
'Idlewild', a song which touches on both deeply personal and universal themes
and final track 'Little World', performed with heartrendingly focussed reverence.
The sublime 'Five Minutes', however, gets my vote for top track; the bruised candour
of its imagery and plaintive melody makes the very air stand still around it.
'Hello Cruel World' is yet another unimpeachable addition to Ms Peter's fine body of work.