Gretchen PetersHello Cruel World        9/10

PEOPLE WITH early release copies have been raving about Hello Cruel World since before Christmas. Now that it’s out, the rest of us understand why.

Deservedly called one of Nashville’s best songwriters, Peters’ imagination shines through in lyrics pondering the life of a waitress on a break, a knife-thrower’s girl and about whether to cheer for the bull at a bullfight. It is her most personally searching album, fuelled by a trying year, and a courageous step after an early career writing for and about others. The comfort zone can still be there; ”I’ve never felt the earth move under my heels, but I’ve got a pretty good idea how it feels.” The best songs here are when she knows how it feels.

It is a brilliantly played album, and well-produced…although a little less polish might better suit the material (Peters disagrees; see twinterview below). Performed live (TOUR DATES), the mix should be just perfect.

THE TWINTERVIEW: Typing from California today (Feb 3), Gretchen Peters responded to a few questions from Tincanland. Live. On Twitter. Read it in full here:

@gretchenpeters OK, Twitter. How much time do you spend here?
@tincanman2010 Probably 30 min a day total. Hard to tell since I like to send occasional phone tweets, depending on what’s happening.

@gretchenpeters You interact with your fans a lot on Twitter. Is that business or the type of person you are?
@tincanman2010 It just really suits my personality. I’ve been a blabbermouth since I was 2, ask my family. Also 140 char. brings out my inner Dorothy Parker.

@gretchenpeters Do you and hubby @barelywashed tweet each other like most couples seem to these days?
@tincanman2010 @barelywashed not as avid a Tweeter. Occasionally tweet each other, mostly petty arguments about who owes whom dinner.

@gretchenpeters You’ve got 140 characters to #FF some people for tincanland readers. Go!
@tincanman2010 @matracaberg (her Bday!) @kimrichey@WillKimbrough @barelywashed @jeffblackradio@SuzyBogguss @ThomasRussell

@gretchenpeters Now, songwriting. More of the top writers and singers in country are women than in most genres. Why is that?
@tincanman2010 is that true? I resist(ed) being labeled as “female writer”, find it unnecessary, irritating.
But women have different story to tell. Country music is all about stories. Or at least was, & that was its strength.
@gretchenpeters Was?
@tincanman2010 Think country music strayed from its narrative strength to try to emulate pop. Pop is great. But we already have pop.

@gretchenpeters What is the biggest difference between writing for others and writing for yourself?
@tincanman2010 I’ve never actually written for others. I sit down and write what needs to come out. Then the songs go where they go.

@gretchenpeters What was the first song you ever wrote, and how rubbish was it?
@tincanman2010 Actual 1st attempt was in back seat of car at age 6. Song called Weeping Willow. Going for melancholy even then. But 1st “real” song at 16ish All Of My Lifetime. Wrote after seeing Dolly Parton. Not rubbish, not great. Heartfelt.

@gretchenpeters You hate being misunderstood, but too obvious is boring – and may not rhyme 🙂 How do you balance that?
@tincanman2010 Great Q. As I get older I’m more interested in ambiguity. My need for clarity takes care of itself.

@gretchenpeters Which leads into Cruel World. Do artists need a good kick every once in awhile? (Context)
@tincanman2010 Well it doesn’t hurt. Actually it does, but not the writing. Big Life Events bring a sort of clarity & fearlessness

@gretchenpeters What is your favourite song on the album, and why.
@tincanman2010 Hard Q. Probably Idlewild. #1 it’s my childhood #2 it doesn’t rhyme. Desperately wanted to write song w/o rhyme.
@gretchenpeters Yeah, I was trying to figure out all the references and do math on the years listening to that one
@tincanman2010 stay away from the math!

@gretchenpeters Which is the hardest one to sing in public, and why?
@tincanman2010 None of them hard to sing from an emotional POV. I’ve never had any inhibition abt being vulnerable w/in context… of music. Hard to sing physically is a different matter. They’re all easier than Independence Day!
@gretchenpeters Independence Day killed me. I didn’t want to bring it up because you are solo now. But you still seem proud of it
@tincanman2010 I am certainly proud of it. Don’t necessarily want to sing it every night though.

@gretchenpeters On the radio [BBC2] with @WhisperingBob your voice was grittier. Is the album a tad over-polished for these songs?
@tincanman2010 I don’t think so, I was going for lush & dark as an overall palette. Voice was gritty on@WhisperingBob due to jetlag! However, I am embracing the grit these days.

@gretchenpeters Finally, I do a 3-song playlist to go with the review, so which 3 do you want and why? [See top of post]
@tincanman2010 #1 The Matador. Because I think it may be the best song I’ve been able to write thus far.
#2 Woman On The Wheel. Because it’s as hard as I’m ever going to rock, most likely!
#3 Five Minutes. Because it’s probably the most “me”. Not the character, but the nature of the song.

@gretchenpeters ty much 4 this. It was fun (& scary!) U R so gracious.
@tincanman2010 You too – so much fun! Great Qs, too. Off to explore San Diego!