It's hard to imagine that most of the current hat-hunks and homecoming queens of Nashville have actually lived anything like the lives of the loners, wanderers, misfits, outcasts, prisoners and other dark characters and places they sing about. On the other hand, if anyone's looking for a poster girl for today's "Wild Side of Life," Mary Gauthier would have to be near the top of that list.
As might be guessed from the title, this new release (her second) from the Louisiana-born singer and songwriter is not exactly what currently passes for typical Nashville fare, but then, Gauthier (that's "go-SHAY") calls the Boston area home these days.
Where her previous, debut release "Dixie Kitchen" featured a quirky, driving, up-tempo sound that was heavily laced with fiddle and steel guitar, her new effort is a much more strongly acoustic exploration of what she calls "country noir," with themes not usually dealt with in mainstream country or at least not from this angle. "Evangeline" is a frank (and ambiguous) look at sexual obsession, while "I Drink" is less a celebration of drinking than an acknowledgement of it as a cold, hard fact of life. Whatever the mood or setting, Gauthier's lyrics are razor sharp, and her plaintive vocals always appealing. If your tastes include folks like Lucinda Williams, Iris DeMent or Lacy J. Dalton, Gauthier could be an intriguing revelation.