Although Lucinda Williams has been the most prominent female flag bearer for the Americana genre, I strongly suggest you also pay attention to Mary Gauthier, if you haven't already done so.

The 55-year-old's back story is fascinating. Adopted as a child, she became a street kid runaway and fell seriously into drugs and alcohol to deal with the fact she was abandoned by her birth mother. She then turned her life around, eventually running a Cajun restaurant in Boston for 11 years.

At age 30, music also sent her a calling card and by the mid 90s, she lived her life in both domains.

She didn't write her first song until she was 35.


From the release of her second album, 1998's Drag Queens in Limousines, she has devoted her life to music and garnered a loyal following, playing major festivals, and releasing 11 albums.

The previous stand-out was 2005's Mercy Now, but from the attention this new record, Rifles and Rosary Beads, is attracting, she just might have cracked another ceiling.

Rifles and Rosary Beads' songs were co-written by former soldiers and these vets have helped Gauthier shape an unique soundscape, very much in sync still with the feel of her earlier records.

It's massively affecting and her weary vocal style really conveys the despair of the subject matter.

It's easy to leap into the bestsellers of music — it's more rewarding to seek out artists like Mary Gauthier and Rifles and Rosary Beads.