Pittsburgh Event

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier @ClubCafé on 3/12

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier will perform at Club Café on March 12 in support of her most important release to date, Rifles & Rosary Beads, which came out on January 26 via Thirty Tigers.

Laura Partain/Courtesy of the artist

The 11 songs on Rifles & Rosary Beads were written during Mary’s time working with SongwritingWith:Soldiers, a non-profit program that facilitates retreats bringing together professional songwriters with wounded veterans and active military. The result of her work in the program is a collection of radically humanistic songs, each co-written with veterans and their families to reveal the untold stories and struggles that these men and women deal with abroad and at home. You can listen to Mary talk about her experience writing these songs on Sarah Silverman’s I Love, You America TV show, or for a more intimate, in-depth program, you can listen to her on NPR World Cafe.
In the past, Mary has used songwriting to work through her own trauma, including struggles with addiction and childhood abandonment. This is Mary’s first album to focus solely on the experiences of others. Mary recognizes music to be a powerful tool for healing and community, and she is in top form here as an artist and storyteller connecting us, as listeners, to these soldiers’ complex feelings of alienation and guilt, and in one song, the horror of a female military mechanic being dehumanized and sexually harassed by fellow soldiers. These songs are not easy to hear because they ask us to actively reconsider our comfort as civilians.
The response to Rifles & Rosary Beads has been incredible so far, including coverage from The Wall Street JournalBillboardOxford American and Los Angeles Timeswhere critic Randy Lewis said, “You’ll be hard-pressed to hear a more powerfully moving work this year — or any other.” Noisey called the album “modern folk music at its best,” saying, “she achieves what so many who tout themselves as musicians and activists strive to do: she hands over the reins to those who need them most…” I’m a huge fan of Mary’s work, and there are multiple songs from her discography that have left me stunned —“Drag Queens in Limousines” and “Mercy Now,” for example (the latter being one of Rolling Stone’s “Saddest Country Songs of all Time”). The newest addition to that list, Rifles & Rosary Beads‘ “Bullet Holes in the Sky” is humbling in its power as a song. You can hear it at Entertainment Weekly.