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The Foundling CD

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (17 May 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Proper Records
  • ASIN: B00395CEOS
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,651 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Compared to the like of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle & Lucinda Williams, alt-country artist Mary Gauthier exploded onto the scene in 1999 with her album 'Drag Queens In Limousines'. Embraced by critics, folkies, and No Depression fans alike, Gauthier's warmly candid treatment of her fringe-dwelling subjects rings true, as it never verges on sentimental; her characters' downtrodden lives are never coldly exploited. Instead, these are people she knows, who she met after dropping out of her Louisiana high school and stealing the family car at the age of 15, in detox at 16 and jailed at 18. Her own wayward path led her to opening a successful restaurant in Boston's Back Bay - Dixie Kitchen - which she sold after her music career started to take off. The Foundling provides a foundation, a starting point for Mary’s peripatetic odyssey. Orphaned at the St. Vincent’s Infants Home, she was eventually adopted by a couple from Thibodaux – Italian, Catholic and doomed. "The songs tell the story of a kid abandoned at birth who spent a year in an orphanage and was adopted, who ran way from the adopted home and ended up in show business, who searched for birth parents late in life and found one and was rejected, and who came through the other side of all of this still believing in love.” Mary Gauthier Written and recorded over the course of two years, The Foundling was produced in Toronto by Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies, using local musicians and his sister Margo Timmins on vocal harmonies. Track listing: The Foundling / Mama Here, Mama Gone / Goodbye / Sideshow / Interlude 1 / Blood Is Blood / March 11, 1962 / Walk In The Water / Interlude 2 / Sweet Words / The Orphan King / Another Day Borrowed / Coda.

BBC Review

Songwriting as catharsis is clearly effective. Otherwise why would it have been done by the likes of Lucinda Williams, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and so many others, so successfully?

Their trick has been to make it accessible to an audience that has not had the same life experiences, who might not even be able to empathise with the writer's emotions. We didn't have a clue what Taylor's Fire and Rain was about, but it sounded nice; Williams' Side of the Road was a bit on the elliptical side, but there was an attractive wistfulness about it.

No such concessions here.  Mary Gauthier is straightforward about who this album is aimed at. She dedicates it to "... all adoptees, birth mothers, birth fathers and adoptive parents who still suffer". I think they might make up the majority of those who go for The Foundling.

Mary was abandoned by her mother at birth. This collection of songs describes her trying to come to terms with her adoption, and, when she reached the age of 45, her search for her birth mother. She found her, and they spoke briefly on the phone, but her mother refused to see her. The desolation she felt as a result is palpable through her sharp, dry and occasionally bitter lyrics. She pulls no punches.

Producer Michael Timmins, of Cowboy Junkies, sets these lyrics and their melodies, which come right out of the Appalachian Mountains, in a context which is predominately acoustic, sparse and minimal.  And it couldn't be any other way. The Foundling isn't a lot of fun, but it tells a very sad story with bleak eloquence.

--Nick Barraclough

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Mary is definitely an acquired taste - an 100% cult artist. But that doesnt mean that her music isnt accessable. This album is superb. Its a twelve track song cycle that tells the story of an abandoned childs journey through life. The subject matter is quite bleak and sad at times but somehow the whole feel of the album is positive and uplifting. Mary's voice has never sounded better and the sparse acoustic backing is spot on. It may take a few plays to latch on to what "The Foundling" is all about but its worth it. A masterpiece!
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This is Mary Gauthier's seventh studio album (Sixth if you discount last year's mini anthology). She has to be one of the finest and most articulate singer-song writers around for the past few years and she never fails to deliver anything less than a top quality product. Anyone who has listened to her past releases will be acutely aware that she writes from the heart in a very open and honest way, giving us snippets of her childhood (Dixie Kitchen / Filth & Fire), her adolesence (Drag Queens in Limousines), her love life (Dixie Kitchen / Mercy Now / Filth & Fire / Between Daylight & Dark), but here in 'The Foundling' she lays her heart bare for us all to see. The topic of adoption is tackled head on with no beating around the bush. She lets us see the pain she has carried of her rejection by her birth mother who gave her up for adoption. She tells us of her long search to make contact only to find rejection again. Just listen to the words of 'March 11, 1962' recounting her making contact by telephone with her birth mother;

"You say that you love me
But I'm a secret you can't tell
And the hole you hide is wider
Than the waiting gates of hell
You wish you'd done it different then
But you did not know how
And its too late to change any of it now"

March 11. 1962 is an extremely moving song as is that which preceeds it 'Blood is Blood'. The entire collection of songs is truly thought prevoking and heart wrenching. Her vocal delivery conveys her pain and sorrow, listen to the title and opening track, 'The Foundling' or 'Mama Here, Mama Gone' or any one of the tracks and you will see what I mean.
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Format: Audio CD
Mary Gauthier - The Foundling (Proper)
"The Foundling" is basically Mary Gauthier's early life and its consequences set to music. Adopted at birth, the album explores her feelings regarding parental rejection, and in later life, making contact with her birth mother, only to be rebuffed a second time. In clumsier hands, "The Foundling" might have been a little too much like hard work for many listeners, but Gauthier's an excellent songwriter with a gossamer touch, and it's impossible not to be touched by her reminiscences and incites.

Produced by Cowboy Junkie Michael Timmins, and aided by fellow Cowboy Junkie Margo Timmins and Band-man Garth Hudson, Gauthier's songs are framed in a sympathetic setting and although lyrically she lets rip with a few home truths, the album's never less than wholly accessible. 9/10.

Note. I'm not sure where it's available, perhaps Mary Gauthier's website, but there's a second album available, entitled "The Foundling Alone". These are the original songs recorded as demos by Gauthier and Michael Timmins at their first meeting. Keep a look out for it.
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I saw Mary Gauthier live in 2003 in a small venue, was very impressed by her full-on performance and subsequently acquired her 2002 and 2004 albums. Both these are very strong albums which I've listened to often. This 2010 release is, though, a more complex beast.
This is a themed album/song-cycle - re Mary's feelings about key events of her life. She was given up by her natural mother at birth, subsequently sought out her mother 40+ somewhat troubled years later (after much effort) but was again rejected.
The album has 10 songs + 2 short instrumental interludes + a wrapping up coda - over 45 minutes in total. The songs are all written by MG, some in conjunction with co-writers. Mary is the main vocalist supported by a range of musicians/instruments (her own guitar, other guitars, accordion, fiddle, trombone, percussion, keyboards).
Mary has an expressive voice with a Southern "drawl" very much suited to dark tales; the instrumental support is varied and complementary.
There are several very good stand alone tracks on this album (not as many as on her other albums I believe) but the album largely hangs on the personal theme.
To say this album is "heart on sleeve" would be an understatement - it's more a ripping open of the ribcage and a spilling out of heart and guts. I don't believe I'll be listening to this as often as MG's other albums but as a work of emotional integrity it's top notch. Anybody looking for a fun listen should avoid, those into sincere soul-baring will find it very rewarding.
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I bought all of Mary's albums at once having heard Mercy Now on a tv program soundtrack. It is very rare that I take to a singer like this. Not straightaway. I didn't have to listen several times for it get into me and grow on me. No. She got under my skin right away. I needed no explanation. I knew of what she is singing. Her voice, all gravel and compassion, suits her songs so well. I could not imagine any other voice singing them. This is not background music but music you sit and absorb. Listen and you'll get it.
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