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Singer/songwriter Gretchen Pleuss (pronounced Plus) is a kind woman and a great enigma simultaneously, which could come off as intimidating on the right or wrong day. What’s really happening is that she’s being herself, regardless of your preconceived notions. On her third LP, Daughter of the Broader Skies, Gretchen speaks for herself, and any woman (or person, for that matter) who just wants to be free to roam and figure it out on the journey.
The album begins at a moderate pace, as you would at the start of a long drive with just you and your thoughts. The road is silent because you chose to leave early to get a jump on potential traffic. Gretchen tells tales that could be 100 percent autobiographical or complete fiction. Starting with the two most pop tunes on the album, “If You Saw Me Now” and “Everybody’s Pretty,” is a brilliant play. Not that these songs are bad in any way — I’m calling it that “Everybody’s Pretty” ends up in a Hallmark commercial — they just don’t exhibit Gretchen’s full prowess as an artist.
Gretchen’s vocals are always flush and she never leaves a moment indescriptive. Lyrically, she can be cold and callous or brutally honest. Either way, you’ll find yourself on one side of the story and that breathes true in “Unpack,” when Gretchen describes two lovers tugging on each other’s heartstrings through a 13-state-distance relationship. The way Gretchen’s voice can make a potentially problematic union sound charming is almost intoxicating.