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Bentley’s Bandstand: An unforgettable album by Mary Gauthier

Posted By Karen Young On July 6, 2010 @ 11:45 pm In Arts & Culture,Music | No Comments

BY BILL BENTLEY

Mary Gauthier, The Foundling, Razor & Tie Records

Concept albums can be deadly. Some seem inspired by the angels and can bring listeners to their knees. Others will make you run for the hills holding your ears and screaming “Liberace in lace underwear” at the top of your lungs to help drown out the sound. Of course, there is no telling in advance what works and each is a giant gamble.

Mary Gauthier, one of the best singer-songwriters alive and someone who can put your heart in a vice grip tighter than a tourniquet, goes all the way on The Foundling.

Mary Gauthier, one of the best singer-songwriters alive and someone who can put your heart in a vice grip tighter than a tourniquet, goes all the way on The Foundling. Put up for adoption when she was born in New Orleans, Gauthier spent a large portion of her early life seeing how much trouble she could locate — and succeeded admirably. The woman has dedicated many of her adult years making amends for that misadventure, and recorded a handful of albums that shine like diamonds.

Unfortunately, not that many actual citizens know about her music and its infinite charm, but that doesn’t stop Mary Gauthier from dreaming big and acting brave. These thirteen songs take sadness to a new level, without ever making them hard to hear. Maybe that’s because the music communicates a level of uncomfortable truth the record business now would rather commit mass suicide than have to acknowledge.

Ultimately that’s irrelevant because one thing is for certain: the Louisiana lady won’t back down. She has the resolve of a suspension bridge and an eye for emotional detail beyond uncanny. So even while the songs are swinging and swaying, the daggers are out and the laser beams doing their dirty work. The words dig into the earth to help her come to terms with a part of life way beyond her control: a childhood which began by being discarded. Not an easy fact to ignore. Okay, maybe The Foundling isn’t the perfect play to get a Valentine’s Day party started, but it’s an album you will never forget. And how many are there of those these days? Liberace please phone home.

Bill Bentley is a writer, musician, publicist, record producer and A&R director. He once played drums with Lightnin’ Hopkins.

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