Review: The stars come out on Mary Gauthier’s new album

“Dark Enough to See the Stars,” Mary Gauthier (Thirty Tigers)

Mary Gauthier’s weekly Sunday afternoon livestreams at the pandemic’s peak were a lot like church, with confessions, contemplations and a welcome spirit of communion.

The gatherings offered balm for believers in the power of song, and Gauthier’s new album does the same, showcasing tunes that came to life during lockdown and were regularly featured on those shows. As the title might suggest, love prevails over death on “Dark Enough to See the Stars,” though not without a struggle.

Gauthier’s scarred alto is the ideal instrument for her candid, thoughtful musings on loss, healing and the need for hope. Her voice quivers, wobbles and slides, as if never sure where the next note will land, but it’s always someplace compelling. Among those contributing to the soulful, smart arrangements are keyboardist Danny Mitchell, fiddler Michele Gazich and singer-guitarist Jaimee Harris, Gauthier’s partner.

Highlights include “Thank God for You,” a gospel-tinged celebration of love’s restorative qualities, and “How Could You Be Gone,” a wrenching slice of life and death. But from start to finish, Gauthier masterfully makes the personal universal. On “Truckers and Troubadours,” she affectionately draws a connection among those “just passing through,” which would be all of us.

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