Songwriter Gretchen Peters is a go-to for artists seeking material whose lyric depth matches its hooks. She continually goes into the marrow, revealing secrets that result in defining decisions and cathartic actions. This is especially true of her own recordings and Blackbirds takes these to an entirely new level, one shared with peers like Mickey Newbury (It Looks Like Rain) and Bruce Springsteen (Nebraska).
Recently inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, 57-year-old Gretchen Peters has released a string of albums as a solo artist and, whilst there may often be the familiar cosiness of traditional country scattered throughout each offering, there’s a lot more to her skills. Peters is, undoubtedly, a gifted lyricist and has found inspiration from all quarters in the past: 2007’s Burnt Toast & Offerings was an intensely personal affair, written in the wake of her own divorce after 23 years of marriage. 2012’s Hello Cruel World is often cited as her best collection and again, Peters drew on character testing events for songs with a friends tragic suicide and her sons transgender revelation providing some of the fuel for a bleak, despairing collection.
With Blackbirds, Nashville mainstay Gretchen Peters betrays the notion that albums devoted to the subject of mortality are exclusively the province of aged male singer-songwriters, committing herself to exploring a more feminine perspective on the subject of death and its effect on others, and allowing the natural sweetness in her vocal to leaven the weight of the material. It's a voice that may not be familiar to most; Peters is far more recognized for songs she's written for others than those recorded for her own steady stream of albums. This isn't due to any lack of vocal ability, but rather because her tastes and interests diverge from those of a broad audience: Her catalogue never courts radio play as directly as, say, the version of her “Independence Day” that won Martina McBride the 1995 CMA Award for Song of the Year.