Mary Gauthier explores what lies 'Between Daylight and Dark' with new album

If you listen closely to the wind, you will hear her voice drifting through the pines on a dark night. Or maybe you will hear her speak in a crowded room from across the sea of people. Perhaps she will be heard in the bouncing echo that shouts back at you from the abyss. No matter where you first hear her voice, you will know it like the sound of your own hands against your head as you run your fingers through your hair.

That sound—that universal voice that speaks to us all from a place where we share common experience as humans—that is the voice which is channeled through the work of Louisiana native, Nashville resident and acclaimed singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier (say Go-Shay).

At this point in the game you may or may not have yet heard of this rising star, but rest assured there will be a day when everyone knows who she is. In a way they already do.

Gauthier’s music is a type of country-noir that plumbs the depths of humanity at its deepest core, filled with darkness that is thickest just before the dawn of enlightenment. Her songs find redemption and damnation in seedy hotel rooms and explore themes that strike a chord resonating on a frequency that anyone can relate to on some level.

Her music has a timeless and enduring quality like that of Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash, indeed Gauthier may well be the unwilling inheritor of the Man in Black’s legacy as the voice of the people from out of the darkened corners of the human condition—the fallen saint, the redeemed sinner, the jilted lover, the vengeful anger of wrath. All of these things take sublime form in Gauthier’s melancholic arrangements and sparse renditions of whispered truths and unheeded voices.

This has never been so true as with Gauthier’s latest release Between Daylight and Dark — her second on the acclaimed Lost Highway label, which also plays host to such stellar country acts as Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams and Ryan Adams. If the company that Gauthier keeps doesn’t speak to her pedigree, then just listen to the music.

In ten songs’ time the listener is taken on a journey that leaves us sometimes vulnerable (Soft Place to Land) sometimes stranded (Can’t Find the Way), sometimes abandoned (Before You Leave) and sometimes empowered (Same Road). But always we are one with the journey. We completely invest ourselves in the characters because they are us in our rawest state.

Mary Gauthier’s Between Daylight and Dark is the long-awaited follow-up to the critically acclaimed Mercy Now both available from Lost Highway Records. Mary Gauthier will be performing at the Belcourt Theatre in Hillsboro Village in special conjunction with the Bluebird Café on Nov. 16.  Tickets are $20 and are on-sale at 

Recently, Mary Gauthier spoke with O&AN in an exclusive phone interview from her West Nashville home.

O&AN: Congratulations on the new album. I have to say that as good as your previous work has been, this one is a real gem. I think I like it better than Mercy Now.

MG: I’m so glad to hear people saying they like the album because it’s scary for me to know that people could say the opposite, so I really appreciate it a lot.

O&AN: You seem to be continuing down this melancholy road you started down with the last album. What were you trying to relate as an artist with this work?

MG: It’s really Melancholy: Phase Two, Continued. *Laughs*

I really never know what I’m trying to say with an album. When you pull all the songs together it’s so hard to tell if it adds up to anything really. I know when I’m in the moment trying to get the microscopic single words right. But I never know what the final result will be when I put it all together and call it a body of work until a little while after it has been released. Really, at this point I don’t have a view of the album as a whole because I feel like I really get most of that from people listening and writing reviews or sharing their perceptions of what it is. I know it seems ridiculous, but it’s just the truth.   

O&AN: The writing on this album really reminds me a lot of Cheryl Wheeler’s style in a way.

MG: I love Cheryl Wheeler. I got caught in the Nashville airport with her once during the “We don’t know who our president is” period in American History, and it was like being trapped with Mark Twain. She’s such a lovable curmudgeon. I was never so happy to see the canceled sign on the airplanes. She was such and interesting and wonderful person.

O&AN: You also tour a lot like her in that you are constantly on the road. What is it like being a full-time traveling musician?

MG: I’m so honored that I keep earning the right to keep going and that the fans keep coming out to see me. Now that I can I’m not about to stop. I think I’m still way under the radar. I’m a little more known now, but I’m still a salmon swimming upstream. I totally go against conventional wisdom in the songs that I choose to write and the subject matter is generally so adult that it excludes a lot of people’s tastes. I’m very lucky to be with Lost Highway and there is no way on earth I could do what I do without them. I feel like with their other amazing talents on the label that I’m deeply in over my head.

O&AN: You also get to share that label with some of the biggest guns in the genre. That must be empowering for you as an artist.

MG: There really was this sort of “Holy Shit!” moment when I realized I was on the same label as Willie Nelson and Lucinda Williams and so many other great people, but I choose no to let it intimidate me. I choose to allow it to inspire me to greater heights and being a part of that incredible collection of artists allows me to see very clearly what my goals are and what I’m aiming to do with my work. It gives me the opportunity to see them as people and to see it as possible to do whatever I want. They put me on tour with Willie and it was kind of like touring with a piece of Mount Rushmore. With a guy like him it takes a while to be able to see him as human. I was sitting on the bus next to him and could not believe it was happening. I couldn’t wrap my mind around his humanity and slowly after a little while when that icon thing started to wear off and I realized he was a real person it was inspiring as hell.

O&AN: How do you approach writing your songs? Is there a specific process that you use or do they just come to you?

MG: It’s very hard for me to explain what I do because I don’t even think I really understand it completely. I’m trying to find the truth for each song. It doesn’t have to be my truth so long as it is true. I’m not even really sure what that means, but that’s it. I know that there is something in each song that needs to be said and for some reason I’m the one that needs to say it so I struggle with saying it well. I will rewrite a song over and over again until I’ve said whatever this song is trying to say to the best of my abilities.

O&AN: You have developed a very solid fan base over the years. It must be gratifying having so many people who are hardcore fans of your work.

MG: Songwriters are the people who tell the stories of our time. They don’t get told by people in the media. They don’t get told by the people with vested interests to profiteer and sell and propagandize. The stories of today are told by the writers—songwriters and fiction writers and poets—so I just want to capture the times that they live in and people come to hear their own stories so it’s really not about me. I’m just the catalyst. It’s really flattering that people respond to my work, but really as long as I honor the word and to the best of my ability put the right word in front of the next one and so on and I get to that articulate place where I get to say what needs to be said in these songs I think that is more what people respond to rather than myself. The songs are the real focal point. I am just the messenger. Hopefully they are seeing the truths that are embedded in these songs that aren’t even really my truths, but more human truths. These stories are our stories.

O&AN: Is it difficult for you to share some of the more intimate parts of your work with a larger audience?

MG: Is it hard for me emotionally to share these sort of intimate parts of my self with people? No. That’s my job. What’s hard for me is getting the exact words right. I can’t be effective at my job unless I expose myself in this way. My biggest challenge actually is getting past myself to the universal we or I’m just navel gazing and that’s just another form of narcissism.

O&AN: As an artist who has been working for so long and has now started to get more and more exposure as time goes on what was it like for you when you first heard your music on the radio?

MG: It was just incredible to me the first time I heard myself on the radio. But all firsts pass and you become not desensitized to it but I think you just start looking for that next first. As an artist I’m in a very interesting position because while that is me on the radio but in a way it’s not really me. It may be something I worked on, but it’s not me in my entirety. So there is this weird sort of disconnect in excitement that I’m not sure how to explain. I didn’t feel an overwhelming urge to turn it up and tell everyone it was me. I really felt almost embarrassed in a way. I’m always worried that I won’t be good enough or dignify people’s attentions with what I’m doing.

O&AN: One thing that has been getting more attention these days is the fast that you are an out lesbian. In fact, you may well be the closest thing to an out country artist in the entire business. What is that like for you as an out musician in this genre?

MG: Well, yeah I’m out in that everyone knows that I’m gay, but I don’t like to make a big deal out of it because I don’t think that it is. I’m not a gay songwriter; I’m a songwriter first. It’s important that the emphasis not be on the wrong syllable.

I don’t write gay songs because it would be too small of a song if I did. A gay song would be too small just like a black song or a white song or a straight song would be too small. There is an inner core that we all share. I want to write about that. It’s really a tricky issue because as soon as I talk about it suddenly I’m in a gay pride parade somewhere and I’m not really interested in being pigeonholed there. I’m interested in humanity and the depth of our similarities. It’s a damn tricky thing to talk about because it alienates a lot of people, but to not talk about it would be fake and deceptive.

It’s really interesting to me because with this record it seems like suddenly it’s time to talk about it—not because of me—I’ve always been very open and honest about it. It really seems like for the first time the major press is ready to talk about it. It just is. My hair is brown, my eyes are green, I’m 5’8” and I’m gay—in that order. If I don’t make a big deal about it and just act casual then no one else feels like they have to because it’s just another part of who I am. I really want people to listen to the songs before they have any preconceived ideas form about me or the music. But I don’t worry about losing fans because I’ve never not been out.

A Google search will reveal everything or even better: Just look at me! All it takes it eyes. Duck. Duck. Duck. I’m just who I am. I’m just like Cheryl Wheeler in that respect as well. Of course she’s gay, just look at her.

WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less