A new Gretchen Peters album is always cause for celebration and contemplation. Dancing With The Beast, her ninth studio project, released this spring to rave reviews, is no exception. Peters is back home in Nashville after multiple tours that included the UK and Ireland. She brings her pensive, story-driven songs to the Franklin Theatre this Saturday night. The CD release show is her only local one of the year.
“I’ve been playing these songs every night. I’ve been touring this record for a couple of months and I feel like I’m surrounded by sisters,” she told WMOT this week.
That’s because the album is full of complex characters, girls and women in various states of stress or change, seeking deliverance, redemption and even justice. Like 12-year-old Cora Lee in the song Wichita, who endures abuse from a mystery man.
“You took it from my mama, now you’re takin’ it from me.
But you touch my little sister, mister then you’re gonna see
There’s worse thing than running from the law, here in Wichita.”
No spoilers. You’ll have to listen to see what happens, but Peters says the song does share themes with her career defining “Independence Day,” a Grammy nominated CMA song of the year that Martina McBride released in 1994.
“They’re meant to be cautionary tales, songs like this,” Peters says. “They’re not meant to point out the rightness of taking matters into your own hands. They’re meant to point out the wrongness of the situation to begin with.”
Though she rarely co-writes, Peters found a copesetic partner in Northern Irish songwriter and Nashville resident Ben Glover for “Wichita” and three others. Her old friend Matraca Berg appears as well. Doug Lancio produced, bringing his flair for soundscapes.
“He’s a witch doctor,” jokes Peters. “He pushes me out of my comfort zone just enough.”