The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury
Treasured Musical Gems Lovingly Restored For a New Generation.
To say that Gretchen Peters newest album is a labor of love would be an understatement.
Heck, anytime a songwriter produces an album full of another songwriter’s songs you can rest assured that the reason is because these songs are highly treasured gems. Now, just because you love a song and admire the songwriter doesn’t mean you can pull off a capable version yourself. YouTube and Facebook of late, are chock full of—not exactly horrible covers of songs (but there are those also)—but cover songs that are limpid enough to leave one wanting to hear the original instead.
Thankfully we have an artist as mature and passionate enough as Gretchen Peters to fully immerse herself in the songs of one of Nashville’s brightest, and even quirkiest writers, Mr. Mickey Newbury himself.
Peters is honest enough to not mess around too much with the arrangements of these classics, instead giving them a feminine bent; and her decision to record these songs in familiar territory—namely the very same studio in which Newbury recorded many of his best albums: the famed Cinderella Sound, utilizing several of the musicians who helped Newbury record his erstwhile classic songs—tells me she’s chasing that elusive element that made Newbury’s songs stand out so much from most other Nashville songwriters.
Some of these tunes were made famous by other musicians (“Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” was a hit by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, “She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye” by Ronnie Milsap, and “San Francisco Mabel Joy” recorded by Joan Baez as well as John Denver.) but many of these are from Newbury’s back catalog, the songs that fans such as Peters would dig for gleefully, and they’re worth the extra work.
Peters, being a noted songwriter herself, doesn’t need to put in the time to record an entire album of someone else’s songs, she does it because she WANTS to, and that’s her gift to us.
“Sailor” is a piano-fueled slow burn, Peters voice dripping in mystery and reverb. “Leavin’ Kentucky” starts with pure country fiddle before the band kicks in, Peters voice to plaintive perfection, on a sad song about that favorite mistress of many a songwriter: unrequited love.
She kicks it up a notch with “Why You Been Gone So Long?”and “Three Bells for Stephen” is a fitting tune to end the album, with it’s repeating phrase of “Do you remember me, dear hearts and gentle people?”
This is a song about mortality, legacy, and a hope for a better tomorrow no matter what, and Peters does it justice, holding back perfectly while the string section tugs at our heartstrings.
If nothing else, this entire album is a reminder of the sad state of affairs of modern Nashville where songs are written to be disposal money-making hits, not remembered decades down the line, such as these gems from one of songwriter’s top writers of his time.
Thank you to Gretchen Peters for reminding us of the talents and heart of Mickey Newbury.
Released 15th May 2020
Review by Roy Peak https://www.roypeak.com/music.html
Order here: https://www.gretchenpeters.com/product-category/presale/