Mary Gauthier

Mercy Now (Lost Highway)

SXSW Records

Mary Gauthier

Mercy Now (Lost Highway)

Tough, bitter, and hard as iron nails, Mary Gauthier chewed up lyrics and spit them out like bullets on 2003's Filth & Fire. She's back with Mercy Now, yet there's little justice for all. Gauthier calls her rootsy alt-folk "country noir," but it's closer to Southern gothic, and more akin to Eliza Gilkyson than the oft-compared Lucinda Williams. With local producer Gurf Morlix at the helm, Gauthier steers an uneasy course from her Louisiana childhood into introspective adulthood. It's an electric combo, Morlix giving Gauthier's songs just the right texture. The title track is the album's showpiece, earnest and raw in its plea for leniency against those who once held her down. Gauthier reaches deeply into old wounds ("Empty Spaces," "Falling Out of Love," "Prayer Without Words"), pulling out handfuls of pain, rejection, frustration, and resignation, and channels them through her poet's heart. That Gauthier is a relative newcomer to the songwriting craft is sometimes obvious; "I Drink" wallows theatrically in jaded self-pity and "Your Sister Cried" is ponderous with cliché. Still, her bar is held high enough that the occasional clinker doesn't sink the rest of the album; her chant-singing on "Wheel Inside the Wheel" is as hypnotic and sly as the lyrics. Don't let the title fool you; in Mary Gauthier's world, no one gets out unscathed. (Wednesday, March 16, 10pm @ La Zona Rosa)

***

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