Mary Gauthier Between Daylight And Dark

As what passes for country music continues its inevitable slide into suburban hell, it’s incredible that artists like Mary Gauthier still exist. Her grasp of the darkest depths of human existence has often made her songs tough to swallow in the past but on this latest effort, her first with producer Joe Henry, the Louisiana native has found a perfect balance between her richly detailed tales of sorrow and a sympathetic musical backdrop. The subtlety that Henry and his musicians employ only adds to the panorama of songs like the Hurricane Katrina-inspired "Can’t Find The Way” and "Last Of The Hobo Kings.” But Gauthier hits hardest when she gets personal with matters of the heart, as on "Before You Leave” and the Fred Eaglesmith co-penned title track. She saves her most poignant picture for closer "Thanksgiving,” describing how the holiday is celebrated in prison. It’s the kind of song that Nashville has literally forgotten exists, which is truly sad since Between Daylight And Dark is the strongest case yet that Gauthier could be the best songwriter in North America right now. (Lost Highway/Universal)