The break-up album to end all break-up albums
Mary Gauthier is famous for baring her soul in her songs; none more evident than on her previous album The Foundling, which told the tale of her troubled upbringing in intimate heartbreaking detail. Here, two years on, a passionate long-term relationship has ended and Mary has used the heartbreak to create an album of intense, brittle beauty that paints a very bleak picture of a dark time in her life and makes for uneasy listening, but will win plaudits and awards in equal measure.
I’ve never heard a song quite like album opener “When A Woman Goes Cold” in all my life. Mary describes the slow, indifferent breakdown of a relationship in intimate detail. Her use of language and the way she hangs on syllables is genuinely haunting and heartbreaking.
The title track “Trouble & Love” is bleakly beautiful, with Mary’s voice teetering on the edge of giving up; but she always summons the strength to complete the verse.
In fairness, there are chinks of light toward the end with “How You Learn to Live Alone” not only being another heartbreaker that will resonate with a lot of people, but Duane Eddy’s sparse guitar parts throughout are beautiful. When he eventually pays homage to “(Take Me Home) Country Roads”, it’s the icing on a very bitter cake.
While still not being a jolly sing-along, final track “Another Train” is actually a song of hope as the protagonist finally begins moving on with their lives.
From receiving the album, I’ve found the subject matter so raw and personal I’ve actually struggled to listen to all eight tracks in one sitting. But, that’s only because the songs, musicianship, and delivery are genuinely brilliant, leaving me emotionally exhausted every time. One afternoon I even found myself playing a Leonard Cohen album afterwards just to cheer myself up.