Rifles & Rosary Beads Makes American Songwriter's Top 25 Album List

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20. Mary Gauthier, Rifles & Rosary Beads

“It would have been easy for Gauthier’s latest album to glide by on the power and profundity of its premise alone: a collection of songs about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars co-written entirely with amateur veteran songwriters. But because she chose to center veteran voices so prominently, Gauthier’s album functions as a stark, crucial de-romanticization of warfare told through the eyes of storytellers whose voices are so seldom given a platform: the female army mechanic more frightened by her male comrades than her supposed enemies in “Iraq;” the Marine wives who subsist on their own camaraderie in “Stronger Together;” the veteran distrustful of the shallow rituals of supporting the troops on “Bullet Holes In The Sky.” Rifles is not only one of the most vividly rendered singer-songwriter albums in recent years, it’s also one of the most vital pieces of art to arise from the never-ending, ongoing American military involvement in the Middle East. It’s also a reminder of the endlessly radical humanist potential that folk music can still hold.” — JONATHAN BERNSTEIN