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Mary Gauthier

Filth & Fire – 2002 (Signature Sounds)

Reviewed by Brian Steinberg

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CDs by Mary Gauthier

Where there's smoke, there's fire. And Mary Gauthier ("Go-Shay") is burning it up here, her follow-up to 1999's wonderful "Drag Queens and Limousines." Gauthier's voice remains in fine form - a little scratch, a little drawl and a lot of smoke-cured sweetness brought to bear on tales of down-and-outers like the heroin user in "Merry Go Round" ("From the phone booth on the freeway/When there's no one left to call/To the porcelain God you pray to/In the public restroom stall") or the blue-collar folks from Thibodaux to Raceland who spend many of their waking hours burning down fields of sugar cane.

Gurf Morlix is here, and the legendary producer adds burbling Hammond B-3 organ and an array of guitar textures to the proceedings, all to wonderful effect. You'll hear echoes of Gram Parsons, Lucinda Williams and "Darkness on the Edge of Town"-era Bruce Springsteen here, but Louisiana-born Gauthier has a voice all her own - and knows how to use it.