Over the course of eight studio albums, Mary Gauthier has firmly planted herself as a truth-telling troubadour unafraid to address situations and evoke emotions many find difficult to articulate. It is one of the numerous things that connect her so profoundly to her fans and why they adore her. On Dark Enough To See The Stars, she mourns the loss of dear friends that include John Prine, Nancy Griffith and David Olney. Gauthier also travels a slightly different course on the album, by offering an optimistic side of herself with songs that celebrate the joy of new love and personal contentment, as heard on her second single “Fall Apart World.”
There is nothing trivial about Mary Gauthier’s tenth album, Rifles and Rosary Beads (Thirty Tigers), all eleven songs co-written with and for wounded veterans. Eleven of the nearly four hundred songs that highly accomplished songwriters have co-written as part of Darden Smith’s five-year-old SongwritingWith:Soldiers program.
Each song on Rifles and Rosary Beads is a gut punch: deceptively simple and emotionally complex. From the opening “Soldiering On” (“What saves you in the battle/Can kill you at home”) to “Bullet Holes in the Sky” (“They thank me for my service/And wave their little flags/They genuflect on Sundays/And yes, they’d send us back”), to the abject horror of “Iraq,” and its quiet depiction of a female mechanic’s rape, each song tells the story of a deeply wounded veteran.