Gorgeous melancholia at St Paul's with Gretchen Peters

Gretchen Peters - St Paul's Arts Centre, Worthing 24/3/15

It was a magical setting in this intimate converted church venue, fairy lights wrapped around the pillars, and Gretchen certainly had the sell-out audience wrapped around her little finger by the end of the evening.

The latest member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame wove a captivating web with her melancholic vignettes, showcasing a clutch of songs from her latest album Blackbirds, a few from Hello Cruel World and favourites from the last 20 years.

Her songs explore the tough times with forensic honesty and could be hard listening but for the depth and quality of her voice, great tunes and the way she effortlessly blends country, blues, roots and Americana stylings.

Black Ribbons, current single When All You Got Is A Hammer, a captivating rendition of Dark Angel, and the aching The Cure for the Pain were standouts in the first half, and the second started with her massive Martina McBride hit Independence Day, with storming versions of Woman On The Wheel and Five Minutes to follow.

Her outstanding band of husband Barry Walsh (piano, accordion, backing vocal), Christine Bougie (guitar, lap steel, drums) and Conor McCreanor (bass) gave sterling support all night, and the crowd were reluctant to let them go.

Songs of sombre beauty, from a lady of singular talent.

Russ Bravo

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