The live pairing of the singular talents of Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer this past Saturday at World Café Live at The Queen was nothing short of sublime. Part of a small tour of the East Coast, Gauthier and Moorer traded songs and anecdotes. Only their voices and guitars separated them from the respectable upstairs audience. But their sense of lyric and melody removed this barrier, making it a most intimate and rewarding artistic affair.
Gauthier spun lavish pre-song narratives. Before “Sugar Cane” she explained how her mother instilled a sense of Woody Guthrie in Gauthier along with a realization that the sugar cane industry’s dirty air was something to worry about, even if the result was sweet. Though her guitar and voice mixing Lucinda Williams and Bob Dylan, Gauthier transcends these influences to find an authenticity all her own. When she unleashed the brilliant reality of “I Drink” and the haunting poetry of “Mercy Now,” the Wilmington room was quiet, in awe of each string picked, each note sung.
Moorer devastates with the turning of every musical page to her new album, Down to Believing. “Mama Let the Wolf In” certainly has to be one of 2015’s great tracks. With hints of “Ode to Billie Joe” in its guitar chords, Moorer takes her rich voice to the dark truths of the autism diagnosis of her son. After riveting the crowd, Gauthier even chimed in with her praise. The live acoustic arrangements of her work transformed the studio polish into songs with even greater edge, like “Blood.”
One does not mind travelling to hear the likes of Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer, but they should easily be able to fill a venue in Philly or Wilmington for that matter. In the end it was an evening of acoustic singer-songwriter bliss.