Mary Gauthier: “The Foundling”

For as long as she’s been making music, Mary Gauthier has been a storyteller; her records take song seriously, but the details of time and place, of character and theme, even more so. She’s a folk singer in the old-school vein, a troubadour who makes art from the people and places in her life. Look, if you will, to a song like “Mercy Now,” with its intimate character sketches sewn together by the broader tale of God and humanity. Or perhaps “Snakebit,” her terrific revamping of Flannery O’Connor’s savage stories of violence and grace. She tells the story of one of Americana’s great lost figures in “The Last of the Hobo Kings,” and of a whole city in her post-Katrina New Orleans wake, “Can’t Find the Way.”

And the more stories she tells, the more it becomes clear that they’re really all different parts of the same story — the story of her characters, and herself, struggling to find home. The theme dogs her work just as surely as the grim dark figure of the Divine haunts O’Connor’s work, as surely as Tom Waits is drawn to boozehounds and street rats — and if you know her own life story, you can understand why. Abandoned by her birth mother, left in an orphanage until she turned fifteen, turned into the streets to live the life of a wandering musician, ultimately rejected by the birth mother she spent her life tracking down, Gauthier’s whole life has been a search for home.

Read the rest at Stereo Subversion.


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