Gretel

Gretel

 Boston, Massachusetts, USA
BandFolkAlternative

Gretel is folk music evolution. With grab-you-by-the-throat good songs, killer harmonies, a five and dime store's approach to off-beat instrumentation (typewriter, saw, and 5-gallon bucket, to name a few), Gretel will wake you up, shake you, and slowly break your heart.

Biography

While doubt and anxiety are common 21st century preoccupations, Gretel's emotive honesty is of the type usually reserved for confessionals and bathroom stalls. Lyrics of disappointment and denial, tales of death and anomie all shimmer with precision and intensity, while the melodies and harmonies, the instrumentation and the energy of their live shows glitter with the possible, the have-able, the low-key lush of the here and now.

The sound is eclectic, borrowing from folk music, alt country, punk and the blues. Whether through the mundane nostalgia of a typewriter, the ecstatic heights of an operatic line, the eerie swan song of a bowed saw, or the feel-good sneaking sorrow of a country tune, Gretel’s palette is broad. Each song sits within its own well-deserved world, refreshingly interpreted and never underexposed.

This Boston-based group, led by songwriter and mouthpiece Reva Williams, are about to birth their third studio project, The Dregs, a lamentation for the corps of the anti-nothing on their co-op label, Eyeteeth Records.

Lyrics

Green Grass

Written By: Reva Williams

the sun’s a shiny liar sometimes
makes me think the universe takes sides with me
that I’m a spot of wonder on the earth
that the silent, shaking hands of god k’chooed my chin at birth
that grass is always greenest in my yard
and the birds will sing their tiny lungs right out in my regard

but then I get unhappy
I remember earthquakes in the night
like when we went to cincinnati
and you broke my heart like a streetlamp that got shot right out of light

the ocean’s altogether far too blue
makes me think the love I have in me still belongs to you
that you’re the only harbor I can find
that you somehow forced these stars into my eyes but I don’t mind
that grass is always greenest in your yard
and the birds will sing their tiny lungs right out in your regard

but then I get unhappy
I remember earthquakes in the night
like when we went to cincinnati
and you broke my heart like a streetlamp that got shot right out of light

maybe love’s a phony dollar bill
and of all the things we never learned, the best is “shoot to kill”

because I always end up unhappy
I remember earthquakes in the night
like when we went to cincinnati
and you broke my heart like a streetlamp that got shot right out of light

Wolves

Written By: Reva Williams

since you carry cake
listen to mother
no room for a mistake
when the flowers call, don’t bother

round the bend
keep hold of your fear
the day folds its hands again
remember dear

wolves never come in peace

there’s no forest fire
just soft whispers for you
don’t let your caution tire
bad things do—happen

child pioneer
look out for danger
it is abundant here
don’t talk to strangers

wolves never come in peace

be afraid
lock up your honor
be afraid

he will know your name
he will speak like a lover
he’ll make believe he’s tame
but you’ll discover

wolves never come in peace

Can I Still Come Over?

Written By: Reva Williams

write me a book. write me a song
write me a letter your whole lifetime long
tell me your stories. sing me your hymns
fill me up slowly
I started bloodletting, so I went away
guess there’s no forgetting what I did that day
I lost all our pictures; kept all my scars
still have your sweater in the trunk in my car

you are the cornfield where I might escape
you’re the do-good sheriff, giving me to the state
I am the promise you can’t help but break

can I still come over

I took up smoking to quiet my mouth
I tended my fire so much it went out
send me a message--any will do
fill me up slowly
there’s this cathedral, I wanna go
and wait like a foundling in the first pew row
some other arms come and take me away
some other family with some other name

you are the spoil I wanted to keep
you’re the midnight oil not letting me sleep
I am your laundry that will never come clean

can I still come over

all this undoing needs to be undone
Undo my undoing, o undoing one

you are the mainsail, but I am off-course
you are a centerpiece, I’m in the drawer
you’re a proposal, I’m a divorce

Can I still come over

Carlotta

Written By: Reva Williams


The trees are full of April blossoms
I spotted opossums coming back from the dead
Winter has gone, but it didn’t go quiet
Addled our brains, knocked some teeth from our heads
But with birdsong sweet and the green in the holler
And the children grown taller, and this wind at our backs
We might have still learned to give thanks for each other
That might have made up for the rest we lacked

Where have you gone this time, Carlotta?
South to the sun or east to the sea?
What did you need this time, Carlotta?
That you couldn’t find in your babies and me?

Did you take off your wedding band? stick out your thumb?
I can see you on a lonesome road with your long, brown hair undone
Were you hoping for a ride? Were you hoping for whatever this wasn’t?
You hope against hope long enough, dear, and it’s hard to be satisfied

Where have you gone this time, Carlotta?
South to the sun or east to the sea?
What did you need this time, Carlotta?
That you couldn’t find in your babies and me?

There’s talk of a fire sweeping over the hills
It’s swallowing snakes and whippoorwills, the oak and the trumpet vine
And if rain don’t come, or some angel of god’s last-minute mercies
The ash in the air will be me and your daughters by suppertime

I have set my face, I’ve dug in my heels
Whatever flames lay waste, flames reveal
Over all the noise I can hear a choir
The curtains caught fire

Where have you gone this time, Carlotta?
South to the sun or east to the sea?
What did you need this time, Carlotta?
That you couldn’t find in your babies and me?

Meteorite

Written By: Reva Williams

"don’t you fall asleep," michael complained.
"the weatherman said 2 am."
so we suck on the bottles that keep away pain
and we laugh until it begins
its cold outside
but the light rushes past and the light is bright
we don’t have much
but when pieces of star explode in the night—so what

"i got to rise early," michael explained.
"if you want a ride let’s go."
we watch out the window but it’s not the same
we turn on the radio
our bodies rest
and the night rushes past and the night is blessed
when we get home
we will fall into bed forget what we said
when day breaks in
we’ll wake up alone

"this isn’t working," michael maintained.
some things never do
so, i sing the songs that keep away rain
but I’m still soaked through
there’s no taking sides
our lives rush past and our lives divide
even mountains fall
stars fade to black like they never burned

the meteorite
gives up its ghost to the sky
and we make the wishes we’ll keep on wishing
'til we die

I Am Japan

Written By: Reva Williams

I am Japan.
You are a big, cold tidal wave, chasing the air.
I’m a poor swimmer. I cannot breathe.
I don’t think you care.

I am Japan.
You are the mean Godzilla, spit fire and scare.
I’m tripped up and I’m running ‘cause I’m flammable.
I don’t think you care.

Japan’s an island. It's all alone.
Japan’s afraid to come back home.
Japan’s an empire that sets with the sun.
Japan, Japan, you’re not the only one.

I am Japan.
You are the grim death bomb, all terror and tears.
I am full of shadows. You’re out winning a war.
But I am still standing here.

‘Cause I am Japan.
You are the cold-cocked suicide. You're stealing my years.
But I believe in bandaids and the afterlife.
That keeps me stranded here.

Japan’s an island. It's all alone.
Japan’s afraid to come back home.
Japan’s an empire that sets with the sun.
Japan, Japan, you’re not the only one.

I am not the only one.
You are not the only one.
I am not the only one.
(Are you tired of being alone?)
So, don't you ever try to make me one.
(Come on.)
Nothing but the lonely one.
(I am tired of being alone.)

Japan’s an island. It's all alone.
Japan’s afraid to come back home.
Japan’s an empire that sets with the sun.
Japan, Japan, you’re not the only one.

I'm not the only one.
I don't wanna be the only one.
I am Japan.

Car Bomb Times

Written By: Reva Williams

Angels or doctors I can’t afford
But I can pay to get fucked up when I get bored
Forty days and forty nights now I prayed to the lord
I think he said its high time I fell on my sword

I don’t know but i guess we got told
We’d better be pretty or we’d better be bold
And it’s a spoonful o’ sugar says its gonna be fine
Yeah that kind of medicine’ll ruin our minds
Nothing like lost makes you wanna be found
We can try to get home or we can try to gain ground

Tell me baby, where have you been?
I have been your lady since I don’t know when
And we are hardship bound but I think you will find
That I will still be your anchor if you’ll still be mine
Time’s running past like a thief in the rain
We can catalogue pleasure or we can catalogue pain

These are car bomb times, these are car bomb days
These are scared girl/boy rhymes, these are scared girl/boy ways

Salt

Written By: Reva Williams

Tastes like salt—my mouth
There’s not enough water in this town to wash it out
It’s a bitter pill. It’s gotta go down
I sold my soul in a deal with the devil now the devil wants out

No use making space to draw a line
The wilderness will cross it every time

O, woe

There ain’t no shame like mine
I tied my heart to the tracks of the Norfolk Southern railway line
Now, it’s a phantom limb. I built a phantom shrine
It wakes me up in the middle of the night with its phantom whine

The worm don’t die; it just eats up the vine
All the things I killed are things that make me pine

I wish I could be found
I wish I could turn this mess around
I wish the past would go lie down
Go lie down

I held my breath
I held my tongue
I held my peace and my temper
The kingdom didn’t come

It made me sore
It made me odd
It’s not enough:

Language
The ghost of god

Language and the ghost of god

Jesus! (Where did you go?)

Written By: Reva Williams

I have looked all of my life for signs
From brimstone to turpentine
I’ve tried to get myself clean

But I am dismayed at what my effort has wrought
I turned my head into one big knot
I turned my soul into spleen

Jesus! Where did you go?
I wanted to buy something at the end of your medicine show
I have a limp
I have a heartache
There’s been a mistake
I thought you said you were not gonna leave me alone

Each cold night and every morning after
I tune my ear toward the laughter
I am trying to keep the darkness at bay

I am not immune. I barricaded my soft spot
If the hot seat should get too hot
I think I’ll probably say

Jesus! Where did you go?
I wanted to buy something at the end of your medicine show
What will it take?
Just to be taken?
Just to be shaken up by your holy ghost contaminant glow?

I have traveled to the river
I have set fire to the woods
I once felt my heart strings quiver
I have prayed to be good

Jesus! Where did you go?
I wanted to buy something at the end of your medicine show
I am a tart
I am a drinker
I’m such a negative thinker
Come on. Can’t you swing low?

Jesus! Where did you go?
I wanted to buy some junk at the end of your last medicine show
I need me a fix
I need me a lucky star
I need me a getaway car
I thought you said you were not gonna leave me alone

Renegade

Written By: Reva Williams

tell me the truth:
when you look in my eyes
do you see your children?
do you see more goodbyes?
buy me a drink.
start with your hand on my knee.
can you make me forget
like I’m Persephone?

the world falls apart
a few times a day.
it don’t matter if you’re ready.
it don’t matter if you pray.
the pieces will get knocked down
some dried up well
where nobody can find them.
nobody in heaven. nobody in hell.

when I last checked
I still had to persuade
you to come on home
like I was some kind of crusader.
when I last checked
you were still trying to evade
me like I was right,
but you were some kind of renegade.

let me tell you what I’d give
if I could just go back
I'd kick this to the curb
of somebody else’s past.
I’d give up all your answers.
I’d give up all my pain.
I’d give up and I’d storm out
a hurricane.

when I last checked
I still had to persuade
you to come on home
like I was some kind of crusader.
when I last checked
you were still trying to evade
me like I was right,
but you were some kind of renegade.

we’ve had a pretty good year,
but it just doesn’t show.

when I last checked
I still had to persuade
you to come on home
like I was some kind of crusader.
when I last checked
you were still trying to evade
me like I was right,
but you were some kind of renegade.

Discography

11 Songs (Reva Williams; solo acoustic effort--June 2004)
Unreturnable Dirt (April 2005)
The Meteorite EP (June 2007)
The Dregs (June 2009)

Set List

120 minutes of original music, plus some crazy covers (The Carpenters, Elvis Costello, Bright Eyes, Cheap Trick, etc.)