REVIEW: Grant Peeples’ “Bad Wife” is Sweet and Somewhat Antique


This is quite the creative angle for a male singer – record 10-personal tracks all written by women. I recognize some female songwriters names, so I suspect this is going to be interesting.

Produced by Gurf Morlix — Grant Peeples’ 10th LP is in reliable hands. Bad Wife (RootBall Records – ships Feb. 14th) is the 39-minute LP that commemorates, not specifically, the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment when American ladies gained the right to vote but their courage & fortitude.

The wealth of female songwriters include: Carrie Elkin, Telisha Williams, Caroline Spence, Ali Holder, Phoebe Bloom, Alicia McGovern, SarahMac, Rebekah Pulley, Myshkin, Eliza Gilkyson, & Dayna Kurtz. Some names may be familiar or not, but all are equally creative songwriters.

Grant sings in a spare guitar style throughout & is joined individually on songs by producer Gurf Morlix (guitars, bass, keys, background vocals), Rick Richards (drums), Lee Elders (violin), Red Young (keys on “Bad Wife”), & Danny Goddard (guitar on “Rich Man”).

It’s the Eliza song “Unsustainable,” that is performed vintage style – as if it could’ve been an out-take from the Gershwin songbook. “Slow Dancer,” (Caroline Spence & Stephanie Lambring) is performed in a solid Chip Taylor-Ramblin’ Jack Elliott style & quite well by Grant. The violin, sad as it sounds is braced by the snap of the drums — all excellent. The song reminds me of Prairie Oyster.

The LP is rooted in a genuine folk tradition with 11-tracks (one fiery solo), but no over emotive singing, just solid storytelling accompanied by striking instrumentation, laid back articulation sweet & somewhat antique.

“Iris,” is reflective. Telisha Williams’ fine song about her father’s grandmother — a Cherokee. Something Buffy Saint-Marie would write. It reflects on what an elder might think of you, their toughness, will to survive, & that you can be close even if they were not warm. Their love came through though they never expressed it. It’s what they did for you that mattered.

Ali Holder’s powerful “Bad Wife,” paints a grim picture of home with a cutting lead guitar. Grant’s single aggressive vocal. I’m grateful Grant didn’t change the pronouns.

Beautiful & haunting is “Venezuela,” a Dayna Kurtz tune. I’m familiar with NY’s Dayna (1997 Female Songwriter of the Year by the National Academy of Songwriters). Her LPs always contain compelling material. Alicia McGovern’s “Keep Trying,” has warm rural sounds. Grant’s Chip Taylor-Lee Hazelwood come Mickey Newbury vocal compliments it.

The bonus track 11 — “Market Town” has an old-world Europeanized accordion. No indication who wrote it, maybe it’s Grant’s feminine side? If so – it’s a good song.* More male vocalists should cover female songs. Gender doesn’t matter. It’s because ladies have different words, more varied subjects, see the world differently, & tell stories from perspectives males seldom see.

A man in a bar may drink Jack Daniels, but a woman in a tavern may sip Dubonnet.

See what I mean. Grant Peeples understands this.


*editor’s note, from Grant Peeples: “Market Town” by Myshkin. This is a recording I made in 2011, (hence the ‘bonus track’ status) and it is my favorite of all songs I have ever covered. It is a heart-wrenching story, an allegory, with no chorus or refrain, just a perfectly pitched narrative riding on the wings of unvarnished history. I first heard it around a campfire at the Kerrville Folk Festival in 2010.

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