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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

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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.

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on 11 February 2012
Just prior to Christmas 2011, Bob Harris played a track from this new album by Gretchen Peters. I was struck by that track enough to look for the album, but had to wait until the end of Jan for it to be released. However that wait was well worthwhile. On the first few listens, I was a little unsure about the last four tracks, which are very much downbeat, but repeated listening to the lyrics has lifted them in my estimations. The overall package is simply superb. Gretchen Peters as it turns out is an accomplished songwriter. Her lyrics are intelligent and thought provoking and on a par with any of today's great songwriters such as Tom Russell or Mary Gauthier. The first seven tracks are just simply stunning, and as I have already indicated the last four are good but take a few listens to get under your skin. For me however the second song, Saint Francis (Co-written with Tom Russell) is the albums centre piece both lyrically and musically. Two of the songs had me thinking about where I had heard a similar melody and after a few listens they came to me. Song No5 puts me in mind of Ode To Billy-Jo and song No 6 is similar to one written by a local N Ireland singer songwriter by the name of Junior Johnston (The title escapes me at the moment).

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.
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on 5 February 2012
If mature self-reflection and classic American confession is to your taste, then this is an album of both, augmented by cover-to-cover musical confidence.

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.
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on 13 February 2012
It's possibly become a cliche to say that someone is at the height of their powers, but in this case it's entirely appropriate. Hello Cruel World is Gretchen Peter's masterpiece. It's introspective and deep, but balanced by beautiful imagery and stunning melodies.
I hesitate to pick a stand out track, because the whole album is superb. But Idlewild had the most amazing effect on me, on the first play of the album. I'm almost embarrassed to say that I had to fight back the tears. It's an incredibly powerful song that takes us from Gretchen as a girl in a car in a mixed up family, to the assassination of JFK, and to a swipe at American life. And its all done over a haunting melody that casts a strong emotional pull - simply an amazing song.
One of Gretchen's most famous songs is On A Bus To St Cloud. That's so powerful because of the images created as we imagine the bus trip, and with Hello Cruel World that's present in each of the eleven songs. Even when you think you've got a softer song in the last track - Little World - she throws in a lyrical surprise "two spoons in a kitchen drawer, two shadows move behind a darkened door, only a fool would wish for more"
I now have that lovely feeling you get, when you have an album that you will love forever.
Five stars of course - and the only negative is technical. Some of the tracks could have done with a closer microphone, and a slight backing off in the mix of the instruments. But even that can't spoil what is a perfect album.
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on 25 June 2017
As I write under the pseudonym of Prog/Rock Pensioner one might wonder why I should have purchased this Country/Folk Singer Songwriter from Nashville. The answer is simple this C/D has some wonderful lyrics, some beautiful piano playing, fine guitar and trumpet combined with great melody and vocals. I am sure in amongst my normal musical tastes I will be playing this c/d as and when moments of relaxation are required.
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on 27 March 2012
This is the first Gretchen Peters album that I have bought. I therefore can't say how it compares with her other works, but I love this one from start to finish. The album is slow and melancholic in the main, with only a couple of slightly more upbeat numbers. Gretchen's sublime voice is just so full of feeling that it's difficult to believe and a total pleasure to listen to. The piano playing (Gretchen's husband, Barry Walsh)stands out also - nothing complicated but a perfect accompaniment to that voice. For me the stand out number is "Five minutes", closely followed by "Saint Francis". The former song is so laden with sadness, it's difficult to describe the emptiness and lingering grief felt by the character in the song. The effects of a broken relationship still being felt 20 years on. Any complaints? Not really. The trumpet in "Camille" sounds a little out of place to me, but that's it. Tune in and chill out to a lovely album!
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on 5 March 2012
Having been a fan of Gretchen Peters for many years I couldn't wait to see what Hello Cruel World would be like and I'm glad to say it is fantastic. No wonder it was on the BBC Radio 2 B playlist for 6 weeks, an honour normally given to the likes of Sir Paul McCartney or Bruce Springsteen.

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.
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on 4 April 2012
A bit early for the annual accolades, I know, but this is an album of such outstanding musicianship and lyricism that I would be surprised if another surpassed it this year. After the stunning One to the Head One to the Heart with Tom Russell, who really expected this masterpiece? But clearly the events of 2010 which so affected Gretchen Peters have provided a springboard for some of her most honest, personal and telling lyrics to date, not to mention the beautiful tunes she creates from some quite 'down' lyrics. Not easy to pick a highlight but, for me, Idlewild and Five Minutes had me almost in tears. An absolutely essential purchase. Stunning!!
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I bought this album because there was a good chance that I was going to see Gretchen Peters at a festival I was attending in the summer. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see her live, but the more than adequate compensation is owning one of the best albums I've heard all year, Hello Cruel World. Right from the start, this album just oozes class, with witty, intelligent lyrics right from the off and beguiling instrumentation, all beautiful cellos and gently expressive pianos, on the excellent shuffling title track. Peters' voice is one of the strengths on the album; slightly world-weary, but a definite thing of beauty. I suppose I couldn't argue with this album being filed under "country", but it has more of a singer/songwriter character to it and much wider musical influences than most releases in that genre. If you're not a fan of country music, don't be put off - there aren't any cowboys, dying pets or hoe-downs here. However, saying that, I wouldn't listen to this album too much if life is dragging you down as there's a lot of heavy lyrical content here and much of it is based on unhappiness and dissatisfaction. There's an honesty, integrity and candour to it that I find irresistible, though. "Five Minutes" is one of the many jewels of this collection, deeply personal storytelling at its best - absolutely captivating. "Camille", a gently jazz-tinted ballad, is just as good, as is the remarkable "Idlewild" and the album closer, "Little World". Why this album is so special, why it works so very well, is the way Peters is able to draw us into her world, painting pictures with emotional observation and imagery in the way the authors of the very best books do, binding it all together with captivating, gorgeous music. Essential.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 10 August 2015
This lovely album would be worth buying if only for its second track Saint Francis, a song with superb lyrics and an irresistible tune.
Gretchen P is one of America's finest songwriters - a songwriters' songwriter, if you like, whose songs have been recorded by many other artists - and this 2012 recording is up there with her best, though it might take a couple of plays to get to you, but get to you it will.
The Matador is a sultry song with Barry Walsh's accordion complementing a gently brooding arrangement.
She duets with Rodney Crowell (who hasn't?) on Dark Angel, and their voices work well together.
The gravely sexy Paradise Found is pure sensuality: Eve beckoning to her Adam to remain in Eden, where as we all know the best fun is to be had...
This lady really has nothing to prove any more, after several albums of such beauty and brilliance to her credit. If you love her already, you'll love this, and if you have yet to listen to Gretchen Peters, this is as good as it gets.

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