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Gretchen Peters

One to Heart, One to the Head – 2009 (Frontera/Scarlet Letter)

Reviewed by Linda Dailey Paulson

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CDs by Gretchen Peters

Gretchen Peters, with help from Tom Russell, created a thoughtful, beautiful collection of stories and musical soundscapes carefully selected from the America's best songwriters' catalogues - Bob Dylan, Mary McCaslin, Rosalie Sorrells, Ian Tyson, Townes VanZandt as well as Russell.

It would be foolish to attempt to select a handful of highlights. Peters' voice is clear and true throughout, soulfully interpreting each track. What adds to the difficulty is that not only are the songs intentionally chosen, but their order appears to be as interwoven chapters of the album's overarching story. This is particularly true for the consecutive tracks Blue Mountains of Mexico, These Cowboys Born Out of Their Time and Guadalupe. The songs heavily featuring Russell - Sweet and Shiny Eyes and Snowin' on Raton - create another interesting harmonic texture. Joel Guzman adds deft accordion touches throughout.

Peters, who wrote none of the songs, provides the listener with invitation to breathe and reflect, to pause and appreciate beauty and humanity in an ever harried, anxious world.