MARY GAUTHIER WITH SPECIAL GUEST JAIMEE HARRIS
About This Event
Every single day, which means some days are better and some much worse.
Every day, on average, twenty-two veterans commit suicide. Each year seventy-four hundred
current and former members of the United States Armed Services take their own lives.
That number does not include drug overdoses or car wrecks or any of the more inventive ways
somebody might less obviously choose to die.
It seems trivial to suggest those lives might be saved — healed, even — by a song. By the
process of writing a song.
And yet there is nothing trivial about Mary Gauthier’s tenth album, Rifles and Rosary Beads
(Thirty Tigers), all eleven songs co-written with and for wounded veterans. Eleven of the nearly
four hundred songs that highly accomplished songwriters have co-written as part of Darden
Smith’s five-year-old SongwritingWith:Soldiers program.
None of the soldiers who have participated in the program have taken their own lives, and
there’s nothing trivial about that. Something about writing that song — telling that story — is
healing. What Smith calls post-traumatic-growth.
Gauthier’s first nine albums presented extraordinary confessional songs, deeply personal,
profoundly emotional pieces ranging from “I Drink,” a blunt accounting of addiction, to “March
11, 1962,” the day she was born — and relinquished to an orphanage — to “Worthy,” in which
the singer finally understands she is deserving of love. Maybe that’s where the confessional
song cycle ends, for she has midwifed these eleven new songs in careful collaboration with
other souls whose struggle is urgent, immediate, and palpable. And none are about her.
Each song on Rifles and Rosary Beads is a gut punch: deceptively simple and emotionally
complex. From the opening “Soldiering On” (“What saves you in the battle/Can kill you at
home”) to “Bullet Holes in the Sky” (“They thank me for my service/And wave their little
flags/They genuflect on Sundays/And yes, they’d send us back”), to the abject horror of “Iraq,”
and its quiet depiction of a female mechanic’s rape, each song tells the story of a deeply
On the heels of acclaimed debut Red Rescue, Jaimee Harris doesn’t disappoint with The Congress House Sessions, an intimate EP with stripped-down arrangements of selected songs. Recorded at the Congress House Studio by Mark Hallman (Carole King, Ani DiFranco) and Andre Moran (Sarah Borges, Rickie Lee Jones) and featuring Jane Ellen Bryant and Kris Nelson on backing vocals, Ray Bonneville on harmonica, Brian Patterson on electric guitar, and Sammy Powell on piano, this is no large, speaker-rattling production. Longtime friends add color, but what you’ll hear is Harris and her guitar, delivering performances close to what the songs were when conceived alone with her guitar. Harris demonstrates that her talent and command of her craft is undeniable, accompanied, or not. Whether there’s a rhythm section thumping behind her, or whether she’s alone with her Gibson “Gillie” on an empty stage, all eyes and ears are locked on Jaimee Harris.
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