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Mary Gauthier

FILTH AND FIRE (Signature) • Mary Gauthier

This woman's really got some spit on the ball.

The fierce economy of her writing and the brilliant understatement of coproducer Gurf Morlix are an enlightening partnership. Morlix played most of the tracks here, on a dozen instruments. That's a bad dude. We plan to cover his latest CD in our next issue, maybe we get an interview with him.

On her last CD, Drag Queens and Limousines, Mary made quite a name for herself singing twisted tales of the down and out, left of center, or out on the edge. Her early life was reportedly lived in those zip codes, and her gritty, sad portrayals have a dark credibility. Although much is made of the settings and characters in her songs, what I find arresting is a simplicity, an unpretentious directness that brings you into the center of the song. No wasted words, and no padding. You can like it or not, but you can't not get it.

Three excellent cowriters are represented, and one tune is by Jonathan Pointer. Popular producer Crit Harmon wrote three with the artist, and Catie Curtis and Kerri Powers one apiece. I think my favorite is the one with Catie Curtis, "Sugar Cane," here's the chorus:

From Thibodaux to Raceland there's fire in the fields
All the way up the bayou from Lafourche to Iberville
Dirty air, dirty laundry, dirty money, dirty rain
A dirty dark at daybreak burning the sugar cane

Mary's music has been well received abroad, and she's recently made several tours to the UK and the European continent. I think a big part of that is that simple directness to the songs, along with the grittier realities expressed in them that is considered more interesting by and large than self obsessed American love songs. Since I listen to so many singer songwriter records where this is not true, I will say once more that her lyrics are remarkably clear, easy to pick out and grasp what the singer is saying. (Grasping what the writer is saying may take a little more time, but that's a blessing.)

This wild child turned restauranteur and then full time singer songwriter is destined for great things. Mary Gauthier ain't headed nowhere but up. Check it out on the Listen page, and buy Filth and Fire here.

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