Gretchen Peters Puts Feminine Spin on Mortality With New Album 'Blackbirds'

Due in February, 'Blackbirds' pairs award-winning songwriter with Jerry Douglas, Jason Isbell, Suzy Bogguss and Kim Richey

Gretchen Peters performs at the Cambridge Folk Festival on July 27, 2012. Credit: Philip Ryalls/Redferns

Newly-inducted Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Gretchen Peters has set a February 2015 release date for her next album, Blackbirds. Special guests joining the singer-songwriter on the project include Jerry Douglas, Jason Isbell, Jimmy LaFave, Will Kimbrough, Kim Richey and Suzy Bogguss. 

Peters — who has penned such classic tunes as Martina McBride's "Independence Day" and Faith Hill's "The Secret of Life" — explores the themes of mortality and aging on the new LP. Its 11 tracks were inspired by a coincidental series of events she experienced last year.

"During the summer of 2013, when I began writing songs for Blackbirds, there was one week when I went to three memorial services and a wedding," Peters recalls. "It dawned on me that this is the way it goes as you get older — the memorial services start coming with alarming frequency and the weddings are infrequent and thus somehow more moving."

Although drawn to classic works on the same subject matter by such iconic tunesmiths as Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Nick Lowe, Peters found she wanted to explore the topic from the female perspective. 

"As brave and artistic risk as it may be for a man, it’s much riskier for a woman to speak about it," she says. "Aging seems to be a taboo subject for female singer-songwriters, in part because our value has depended so much on our youth and sexuality. I want to write about that stuff because it’s real, it’s there, and so few women seem to be talking about it."

Several of the songs on Blackbirds were written with her frequent tourmate, Ben Glover, and hearken back to the Seventies-era Neil Young and Joni Mitchell folk-rock of her youth, telling dark, layered tales of suburbia and intimate stories of loss and survival.

Blackbirds, due February 10th, is the follow-up to Peters' 2012 release, Hello Cruel World.

Blackbirds track listing:

1. "Blackbirds"

2. "Pretty Things"

3. "When All You Got Is a Hammer"

4. "Everything Falls Away"

5. "The House on Auburn Street"

6. "When You Comin' Home"

7. "Jubilee"

8. "Black Ribbons"

9. "Nashville"

10. "The Cure for the Pain"

11. "Blackbirds" (reprise)