A Commendable Collection of a Songwriter’s Finest Work.
Gretchen Peters is something of an anomaly; a genuine ‘Star’ in the UK; but barely noticed in her home country, the US of A, even though she is an Award winning songwriter. But, that said, she is definitely a ‘songwriter’s songwriter.’
At first look this collection is a bit odd too; as Gretchen has never had any actual ‘hits’; even in the UK, but has already released another ‘Best Of ‘ collection; yet this double album of 27 songs barely scratches the surface of her rare talent.
Album #1 is primarily made up of songs from her more recent ‘best selling’ albums; with the most recent; the almost Alt. Country song, Blackbirds opening the disc.
A couple of songs later we get the powerful When All You’ve Got Is A Hammer from the same album. When first released; this song about a soldier returning from combat, got a lot of well deserved coverage and a second outing today; is well merited, as the subject matter is sadly all too relevant in 2016.
Two songs will certainly be familiar to American fans; Gretchen’s starkly beautiful rendition of her own On a Bus to St. Cloud, which has pretty much become an Americana standard over the years; and also her duet with Tom Russell on Guadalupe.
I wasn’t aux fait with a couple of songs on this disc; The Aviators Song, dedicated to and about her father, a WWII pilot and a finer love song I’ve yet to hear; plus the duet with Bryan Adams; When You Love Someone is a complete surprise in many ways; especially the couples harmonies. Why haven’t we hard this before?
In their own way all 14 tracks on Disc #2 would constitute an excellent album and will be the reason fans will flock to buy this compilation of ‘rare songs,’ out-takes, demos, live songs and the occasional song from a film soundtrack; all neatly packaged on one disc.
The opening song The Way You Move Me, is a beautiful demo version of an existing song; but better than anything released by many of her better known peers; such is the quality of Gretchen Peters work. It’s the same with Ring Around The Moon; a song far too good to be left on a shelf; but that’s what happened until now.
While not exactly unknown; it’s a delight to hear the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses as performed by Gretchen, Suzy Bogus and the dreadfully under-rated, Matraca Berg in their capacity as Wine, Women & Song.
While there’s not a duff track among them; Gretchen’s stunning rendition of When You Wish Upon a Star from a 2009 Children in Need project called Bandaged Together will bring tears to a glass eye; and hearing her rendition of John Lennon’s Love on piano is well worth buying the album for on its own.
Which leaves us Gretchen’s two most famous songs; Independence Day and The Chill of an Early Fall; huge hits for Martina McBride and George Strait. Personally I much prefer both of Gretchen’s simple and more personal versions on this record than the huge Nashville productions; but I presume her Bank Manager will disagree.
It would be nice if this Double Album were to find its way into the collections of tens of thousands more music fans than will actually buy it; because these songs and this singer deserve a much larger audience around the world.
Released 20th January 2015