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Since 1997, Americana singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier has been making forlorn, lovely, and fiercely personal music that mines her difficult life experiences. These include her struggles as a young orphan and her battles with drug and alcohol abuse.

Gauthier’s latest, Trouble and Love, continues this soul-baring tradition with a focus on the devastating end of a romantic relationship. It is a breakup record but a spiritual journey, too—one that authentically grapples with conscience and strains for new hope.

Lyrically, “Oh Soul” is perhaps the most like a prayer of confession; Gauthier sings about selling her soul away and pleads, “Redemption, redemption, have mercy on me.” On another track, she reminds listeners that we all live “somewhere between Cain and Abel.” Her low, solemn vocals and tempos often drag on before picking up with striking clarity and force.

Yet again, Gauthier proves that hardships can be transformed into beautiful art when we dare to truthfully offer up our troubles and weaknesses as we work for healing. (In The Black Records)

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