Gretchen Peters, Hello Cruel World

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I like some of Gretchen Peters’ songs, but usually prefer them recorded by other people. I’m always vaguely disappointed in Ms Peters’ own albums and this is no exception.

Scratch that. I’m actually more disappointed in this one. It all sounds a bit wet.

I almost didn’t buy it because Ms Peters’ Twitter feed already put me off her. I went to see her on the Wine Women and Song tour last year (with Suzy Bogguss and Matraca Berg). I started following her on Twitter, but noticed that she did a lot of retweeted compliments. A lot. You know, someone says something nice about her, she retweets it.

So I stopped following and almost didn’t buy the record.

I’ve listened to it a couple of times; nothing much jumped out at me, apart from a jarring use of the n-word in one of the songs.

Now, I appreciate that the word is used in the song to make a point. And I take the point. But once the point is taken, I don’t want to keep hearing the word – know what I mean? It’s as if a friend kept saying it over and over again to make the same point – over and over again. Like being slapped in the face repeatedly.

It’s a difficult balance, the use of profanity in a song. In some genres, yes, you expect it. But, for example, when Chely Wright dropped the F-word in a song on her most recent album (to make a point and to separate herself from her Nashville past), it stopped being okay for me after a few listens. It comes on in the car and I want to skip that track – and not just when the kids are in the car. I’m not a prude, and I swear like the proverbial trooper, but what I don’t do is say the same sentence over and over again with the same profanity in the same place. With each repetition it sounds more artificial and more forced and self-knowing and calculated.

The use of the n-word jarred the first time I heard it. And now I don’t ever want that song to come on every again. This seems like the kind of crass miscalculation that someone who retweets compliments about herself would make.

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