- Audio CD (30 Jan. 2012)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Proper Records
- ASIN: B0065WXSEM
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,224 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Hello Cruel World CD
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Hello Cruel World
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The Grammy nominated singer-songwriter from Nashville calls Hello Cruel World her "most close-to-the-bone work, written at a time when I felt absolutely fearless about telling the truth." The title is a pun on the famed exit line a joke that, like the lovely melodies and deliciously textured arrangements framing these 11 songs sweetens this captivating music spun from a year of turmoil. Peters is of course joined by a cast of top musicians including Will Kimbrough, Vicktor Krauss, Barry Walsh and a guesting Rodney Crowell.
Hello Cruel World opens with a laconic sigh. To a descending bassline, the title-track lists a comical catalogue of misfortunes for the 21st century, and then flips it right over: "Me, I’m gonna stick around, in for a penny in for a pound / ‘Cause I hate to miss the show… I’m a very stubborn girl."
Of course, the writerly virtues and gentle string band arrangements of Gretchen Peters’ ninth album were never constructed for the mass market. But the twist here is that her work is famous; the Nashville resident is one of those singer-songwriters to have suffered the irony of all their highly personal hits being sung by somebody else.
Martina McBride, Patty Loveless and Faith Hill have been among them, bringing Grammy nominations for the writing. But while tunes that manage to be both introspective and anthemic have suited the big personalities of the charts (and, incidentally, have gone down just as well in the soul market through Etta James and the Neville Brothers), the writer herself has remained on the margins.
This is not because of any obvious hitch in her own talents. Peters has a warm, expressive alto and an ear for a tune, and surrounds herself with appealing musicians like Kim Richey, Will Kimbrough and Rodney Crowell, who are also favourites on country’s maverick fringe.
Above all, she is a dedicated prospector into the subtext of relationships, teasing out her themes with multi-layered metaphors that don’t always avoid cliché – heavy on images of the arena and Old Testament allusions (and also, as Woman on the Wheel makes plain, the burdens of the artist). There’s an unusual sophistication and depth of lyrical craft here, and maybe it’s not best advertised by a polished country-pop setting that sounds overwhelmingly usual.
Still, anybody who thinks sincerity is a virtue in a songwriter will be bowled over by Peters’ soulful tapestries. The rest of us might hanker for just a stitch or two more of her pleasing dry wit.
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Top customer reviews
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.
From the opening bars of the title song to the closing of Little World, Gretchen Peters has surpassed herself. I'm torn between 3 songs to pick my favourite- Hello Cruel World, Five Minutes and The Matador. Last week it was between Camille, Idlewilde and Dark Angel featuring Rodney Crowell. I suppose the easiest way to put it is the WHOLE album is my favourite.
What I will say is you should buy this album, put it on repeat and let the wonders take you away. A true Masterpiece.
I can only urge you to get your hands on this superb album. One reviewer has stated that this album is essential and I do have to agree with them. If your tastes are along the line of Kathy Mattea, Mary Chapin Carpenter or even Rosanne Cash I suspect you will like Gretchen Peters. Musically this is a folk / rock mix with a slight touch of country thrown in. She is touring Ireland in March of this year and I would suspect GB would be included. I have already got a ticket to go see her in Belfast. Another reviewer has indicated that she is great live, so I am looking forward to that.
I had the pleasure of seeing Gretchen Peters playing live a few years ago and she is simply a great artist. This album is distinguished by the intelligence of the lyrics and the assured strength of Peters' vocal. On playing this recently the performances had a power to make me concentrate and hear rather than just listen. I hope that deceptively pat line carries the true weight of its simple but heartfelt message.
'The Matador' is heated in its storytelling with the haunting accordion and metaphor or real killing; 'Dark Angel' is enhanced with the accompaniment of Rodney Crowell and the hardly original but convincing oxymoron of the lyric 'and if there's no hereafter/oh and there is only here/life is still a beautiful disaster', and the Bobby Gentryesque string-infused southern blues of 'Paradise Found' is as sultry as a swamp. This album is highly recommended.