with very special guest Kim Richey
Sunday 27 May 7.30pm
For two decades, Gretchen Peters has been one of Nashville’s most beloved and respected artists. Inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in October 2014, Peters has accumulated accolades as a songwriter for artists as diverse as Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, The Neville Brothers, Patty Loveless, George Strait, Bryan Adams and Faith Hill. Tonight, she showcases her new album, Dancing with the Beast, due for release on 18 May.
Dancing with the Beast puts female characters at the fore, from teenage girls to old women. And intentionally so. With the 2017 Women’s March and #MeToo Movement as bookends to her writing time, Peters knew that a feminist perspective would be the critical core of the record. She admits, ‘You can trace the feminist DNA in my songwriting back to ‘Independence Day’ and probably before. The thing that 2017 did is just put it front and centre.’
Though Peters doesn’t consider herself a political writer, she is politically minded and, therefore, knew she had to address the 2016 election and all that has happened since… but in her own way. With Lowlands, the title came first, bringing with it both a feeling and a place. ‘The description of the geography gave me a feeling inside of low clouds and general gloominess, but also the idea of laying low and staying low.’ To capture that mood, Peters crafted a multitude of verses, whittled them down, and stitched them together. ‘It has no chorus. It’s nothing but verses,’ she says. ‘It’s relentless, which is exactly how last year was.’
The final female voice on the album comes from Peters’ mother, who passed away in late 2016. Love That Makes a Cup of Tea came out of a dream Peters had of her. ‘I can’t remember what the rest of the dream was, but she, in a reassuring way, held my hand and she said, ‘You know, honey, there is love that makes a cup of tea,’ Peters recounts. ‘I do remember feeling that I had to try to write something with hope in it. It’s not my strong suit. But I wanted that on this record, because I do think there’s hope. I see a lot of trouble, too, but we have to try to find some light.’ Beauty tempered by dread, sorrow buoyed by hope, these are the ever-present tugs of war that make life worth living and songs worth writing. And they are the over-riding themes that make Gretchen Peters one of her generation’s most compelling singer/songwriters.